Today, January 11, SpaceX completed its 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) mission for NASA. The Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on January 9 at 5:05 p.m. ET, carrying around 4,400 pounds of cargo. The spacecraft was docked to the ISS Harmony module for around six weeks. The uncrewed Dragon CRS-26 reentered Earth’s atmosphere today at around 5:19 a.m. ET. It performed a parachute-assisted splashdown off Florida’s coast. NASA did not broadcast its return. SpaceX only shared a photo of Dragon descending into the ocean; it looks like a shooting star falling from the navy blue sky, pictured below. The company provided some updates about the successful return via Twitter. “Splashdown of Dragon confirmed, completing SpaceX’s 26th cargo resupply mission to the Space Station,” announced the company. “Once Dragon has been retrieved by SpaceX’s recovery team, the critical science aboard the spacecraft will be transported via helicopter to NASA Kennedy Space Center and provided to researchers,” they stated.
View from the recovery vessel as Dragon returned to Earth pic.twitter.com/FbJM8AGICi— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 11, 2023
NASA requires SpaceX to recover the spacecraft as quickly as possible out of the ocean to minimize the effects of gravity affecting the results of critical science research performed in a microgravity environment. To recover Dragon, SpaceX uses a ship that is equipped to fish-out the capsule out of the corrosive salty water. The important science experiments get pulled out of the vehicle and flown to the nearby NASA facility. Some of the science research that returned to Earth aboard Dragon CRS-26 includes: the XROOTS hydroponic garden, the Rhodium Microgravity Bioprospecting research, and the Astrorad vest which was tested in space to see if it protects astronauts from harmful radiation. “Crew members wore the Astrorad vest while performing daily tasks and provided feedback about how easy it is to put on, how it fits and feels and the range of motion possible while wearing it," NASA representatives shared. "The vest's developers plan to use that feedback to improve design of the garment, which could provide radiation protection for astronauts on Artemis missions to the moon."
With SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-26 mission officially complete, the Expedition 68 astronauts enjoyed much needed rest. “NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio along with Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed loading Dragon a couple of hours before it departed on Monday. The quartet worked over the weekend and into Monday carefully preserving and packing sensitive biological and physical research samples inside Dragon for retrieval and analysis in laboratories on Earth. All four flight engineers relaxed throughout Tuesday taking time off for quick medical checks, watering plants, and calling down to family members,” the agency shared.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.