The Dragon spacecraft is pictured soon after its release from the International Space Station on Saturday. Credit: Norishige Kanai/JAXA/NASA
A commercial cargo capsule owned by SpaceX concluded a month-long resupply trip to the International Space Station on Saturday, wrapping up the 13th round-trip flight to the station by a Dragon spacecraft with an on-target splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.
Bringing home 4,078 pounds (1,850 kilograms) of disused equipment, spacesuit gear and spacewalk hardware, and scientific specimens, the Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 10:37 a.m. EST (7:37 a.m. PST; 1537 GMT) after a blistering hot re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere.
Traveling northwest to southeast, the unpiloted spaceship plunged through the atmosphere protected by a heat shield surrounded by red-hot plasma as temperatures reached 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius).
Two drogue parachutes deployed to stabilize the Dragon capsule for its final descent, then three 116-foot-diameter (35-meter) orange and white main parachutes unfurled to slow the spaceship for a gentle splashdown at sea, where SpaceX recovery teams were waiting to approach the craft and hoist it aboard a boat to return to port in Southern California.
SpaceX confirmed the successful splashdown of the capsule on ...