After its second month-long stay in the International Space Station (ISS), the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft returned safely back to Earth today. The resupply ship's successful deorbit and subsequent splashdown in the Pacific Ocean was shared on SpaceX's Twitter account via regular updates.
CRS-15 mission complete
The event marks the wrap up of the CRS-15 mission, the 15th resupply mission to the ISS. The craft's descent began at 12:38 p.m. EDT when Dragon’s hatch was closed and the ship detached from the Harmony module using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
Dragon has been released from the @Space_Station! Three departure burns are now underway.ThThe— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 3, 2018
Dragon's smooth departure was monitored by NASA Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor. Once released, Dragon undertook three “departure” burns, moving to within a safe distance from the station in order to prepare for its jet-propelled descent back to Earth.
The three departure burns to move Dragon away from the @Space_Station are complete.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 3, 2018
Fire away and back to Earth!
Several hours later, SpaceX flight controllers at Hawthorne, California instructed the now liberated craft's engine to fire for 12 minutes and 53 seconds, completing the deorbit burn necessary for the trip home. Dragon then began its speedy escape from space!
Dragon de-orbit burn is now complete and its trunk has been jettisoned. Pacific Ocean splashdown in ~30 minutes.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 3, 2018
In about 30 minutes time, the ship then made its stupendous splashdown into the Pacific Ocean assisted by three parachutes. The cargo craft landed about 410 miles southwest of Long Beach, California where the recovery team rushed to pick it up and bring it to safety.
Splashdown of Dragon confirmed. Recovery team en route.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 3, 2018
All is well that ends well and Dragon is now headed to port where its precious cargo, including key scientific experiments, will be handed over to NASA. The trip is expected to take two days.
The craft has been on quite an adventure in just the last few days. On August 1, SpaceX reported the ship, attached to the ISS at the time, was passing over the company's headquarters and across the face of the Moon. Welcome home space traveler!
Dragon and the @Space_Station passed over SpaceX headquarters and across the face of the Moon last weekend. After a month-long stay, Dragon will detach from the orbiting laboratory and return to Earth on August 3. https://t.co/HljgvnfDyMpic.twitter.com/Gvm75nJQDy— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 1, 2018