(Source NASA) — A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. “With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Just a little over one year after we retired the Space Shuttle, we have completed the first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Not with a government owned and operated system, but rather with one built by a private firm — an American company that is creating jobs and helping keep the U.S. the world leader in space as we transition to the next exciting chapter in exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible.” The Dragon capsule [...]
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(Source NASA) – SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was attached to the International Space Station’s robotic arm and then released at 9:29 a.m. EDT. It will first maneuver away from the ISS and then fire it’s thrusters three times to begin the return to Earth. A 10-minute, 40-second deorbit burn beginning at 2:28 p.m. will slow Dragon down for its descent, culminating in a parachute-assisted splashdown 250 miles off the coast of Baja California at 3:20 p.m. Dragon is the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth, including experiments. The ground team at Mission Control Houston remotely commanded the station’s robotic arm to uninstall Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node at 7:19 a.m. after Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams removed the bolts and latches of the Common Berthing Mechanism that had secured the cargo craft to the station since Oct 10. A set of programmed commands to Canadarm2 then maneuvered Dragon out to the 15-meter release point, where Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide [...]
SpaceX crews have already headed to the Pacific Ocean splashdown zone for Dragon’s arrival, while at the station, Expedition 33 crew members are getting samples ready to return to Earth. On Sunday October 28th 2012 at about 6:25PT the vestibule between Dragon and the station will be depressurized and then the spacecraft will then be detached from the space station and eased out to release position by way of the station’s robotic arm. Dragon then fire its thrusters to carry it away from the space station and begin its deorbit burn. Before it re-enters the atmosphere Dragon jettisons its trunk and solar arrays, positions itself so that its heat shield faces the Earth, and proceeds into the Earth’s atmosphere. At 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), it will deploy its three main parachutes and drift slowly toward the splashdown site. Splashdown is expected to take place at approximately 12:20 p.m. PT. Once it is secured and taken to land it’s cargo, which includes biological samples stored in the station’s freezers since the retirement of the space shuttle will [...]