Gallery: Dragon Splashes Down Successfully

by Nancy Atkinson on March 26, 2013

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Dragon is slowed by three main parachutes prior to splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX.

Dragon is slowed by three main parachutes prior to splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX.

Splashdown! The SpaceX Dragon has returned home safely, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 16:36 UTC (12:36 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. “Recovery ship has secured Dragon,” Tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. “Powering down all secondary systems. Cargo looks A-OK.”

A team of SpaceX engineers, technicians and divers will recover the vehicle off the coast of Baja, California, for the journey back to shore, which NASA said will take 30-48 hours.

The big job will be unloading the 3,000- plus pounds (1,360 kg) of ISS cargo and packaging inside the spacecraft. The Dragon is currently the only vehicle capable of returning cargo and important scientific experiments back to Earth.

“The scientific research delivered and being returned by Dragon enables advances in every aspect of NASA’s diverse space station science portfolio, including human research, biology and physical sciences,” said Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program
scientist. “There are more than 200 active investigations underway aboard our orbiting laboratory in space. The scientific community has
eagerly awaited the return of today’s Dragon to see what new insights the returned samples and investigations it carries will unveil.”

See more images below of Dragon’s return and mission to the ISS; we’ll be adding more as the SpaceX team supplies them!

Here’s a gif image of the splashdown:

A series of images shows the Dragon splashdown. Credit: SpaceX.

A series of images shows the Dragon splashdown. Credit: SpaceX.

This picture captures the Dragon just as it hits the water in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX.

This picture captures the Dragon just as it hits the water in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX.

Dragon was released from the International Space Station on March 26, 2013 during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: SpaceX.

Dragon was released from the International Space Station on March 26, 2013 during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: SpaceX.

Dragon’s release from Canadarm2 occurred earlier today at 10:56 UTC. The Expedition 35 crew commanded the spacecraft to slowly depart from the International Space Station

Dragon attached to the International Space Station during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: NASA.

Dragon attached to the International Space Station during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: NASA.

Dragon in orbit during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: NASA/CSA/Chris Hadfield

Dragon in orbit during the CRS-2 mission. Credit: NASA/CSA/Chris Hadfield

Among the the scientific experiment returned on Dragon was the Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures (CSLM-3) experiment, which also launched to space aboard this Dragon. CLSM-3 studies how crystals known as dendrites form as a metal alloy becomes solid. The research could help engineers develop stronger materials for use in automobile, aircraft and spacecraft parts.

Dragon also is returning several human research samples that will help scientists continue to examine how the human body reacts to long-term spaceflight. The results will have implications for future space exploration and direct benefits here on Earth.

The mission was the second of at least 12 cargo resupply trips SpaceX plans to make to the space station through 2016 under NASA’s
Commercial Resupply Services contract.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Shootist March 26, 2013 at 7:02 PM

“Splashes down”

Everything that is old, is new again.

newSteveZodiac March 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Yes it’s ironic except there isn’t some expensive Naval warship burning taxpayer dollars to pick up the capsule. I notice that it is being recovered by a team of “engineers, technicians and divers”, Divers? Surely it doesn’t sink?

Shootist March 27, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Like Shuttle, that “expensive Naval warship” cost the same whether it was used or not.

DeRon Decker March 27, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Not exactly true. Fuel and other costs of operating a Naval vessel is a substantial sum of money that comes out of the O&M budget of the Navy. This was the exact budget being most impacted by sequestration until the new Continuing Resolution was passed. It is true that the sunk cost of the ship and the continued pay for the crew continues whether the thing rusts in port or sails the high seas.

Alex March 26, 2013 at 8:44 PM

@Shootist the Grasshopper is a game changer. Just wait a little.

Aqua4U March 26, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Chalk up another success for Space-X! They are starting to make it look easy? or at least routine… Will this capsule be reused on another flight?

I’d like to see research into ‘foamed’ metals aboard the ISS. In zero gee, micro-bubbles injected into liquid/molten metals would make them stronger and lighter?

Me March 27, 2013 at 5:31 AM

Reminds ‘me’ of the Gemini & Apollo Space Programs of the 1960′s & ’70′s w/those 3-parachutes. I remember when the human race 1st landed & took our 1st step(s) on our Moon. That was a great time to be alive for a mid-age-teenager dreaming of space exploration. Too kool! PEACE!

Ints Kesans March 27, 2013 at 7:24 AM

what is that dirt on Leonardo (module on the right) and how did it get there?

Olaf2 March 27, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Alien Graffiti that they tried to remove. :-)

But it is an interesting observation.
Could be many sources, and exhaust fumes is one of them.
The other things is that someone played with the robotic arm when drunk and missed the grapple port. ;-)

Aqua4U March 27, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Good question! Vented something or other from the ISS itself seems unlikely, but possible? Thruster residue from launch, or ISS ops? Impact from ‘fluffy’ or gaseous orbital debris – someone’s unburnt hydrazine? How about ground handling residue(s)? Now I want to know too, but am leaning toward Russian module venting…

Matthew D'Auria March 27, 2013 at 7:58 PM

It appears to be some sort of adhesive residue left over from whatever sticker was previously attached. See here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Mplm_in_shuttle.jpg

Olaf2 March 27, 2013 at 8:24 PM

An alien must have pulled off that sticker. :-)

DuncanLunan March 27, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Leonardo: reusable Italian cargo carrier, flown on STS-102, 121, 126, 128, 131 and 133. Rafaelo was also flown six times, Donatello was cannibalised to modify Leonardo for attachment to ISS by STS-133 as an add-on habitat and storage module.

nannasin smith March 28, 2013 at 6:24 AM

it could help engineers develop stronger materials.

2N2907A

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