The spacecraft returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Wednesday, making its first splash off the coast of Florida.
The Dragon CRS-21 mission, cargo in SpaceX’s 21st space station for NASA, launched on December 6, 2020, weighing 6,400 pounds, supplies and science equipment (2,903 kilograms) for the Expedition 64’s seven-person crew after a one-day delay. Due to bad weather in the splash zone, the upgraded spacecraft will automatically take off from the space station for the first time Tuesday (Jan. 12) and splash down west of Tampa approximately 35 hours later, at 20: 26 p.m. EST on Wednesday Jan. 13 (0126 Jan. 14 GMT).
As previous Dragon cargo missions ended in an assisted skydiving in the Pacific, the new upgraded SpaceX freighter was designed to land in the Atlantic Ocean near the Scientific Processing Center at Kennedy Space Center. NASA in Florida
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The CRS-21 mission wasn’t just the first to land near Florida. But it’s also the first time that it has automatically docked and disengaged from the International Space Station.Previously, Cargo Dragons relied on astronauts using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to fight off the spacecraft and to take on the orbiting lab.
Other space cargo vehicles, such as Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft and the Japanese H-II transfer vehicle, were intentionally destroyed at the end of the mission. The space station astronauts fill the capsule with trash cans, then use Canadarm2 to send them to Earth, and they safely burn through the atmosphere. However, SpaceX’s Dragon is a reusable spacecraft that Designed to safely send scientific experiments back to Earth from the space station, the Dragon CRS-21 mission returns with more than 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg) of “valuable scientific experiments and other goodies”. NASA said in a statement.
“The upgraded cargo Dragon capsule used for the mission has twice the drivetrain of the previous capsule, allowing the research to be sent back to scientists significantly,” NASA said. Added, “Some scientists will quickly get their research back four to nine hours after the splash”.
Some of the scientific items on board include organically engineered heart tissue grown from human stem cells, a biofilm that can corrode stainless steel, zero-g fiber optics. And so on
SpaceX is planning to launch its next Dragon cargo mission, CRS-22, in May this year.The company’s Crew Dragon capsule is now connected to the space station and is expected to return to Earth with a crew of four in May, for example. The next Dragon launch will be another Crew Dragon, scheduled to launch its Crew-2 mission alongside four other astronauts in March.
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