SpaceX Dragon supply spacecraft departs from International Space Station

SpaceX Dragon release

SpaceX Dragon release

NASA has announced that a SpaceX cargo ship has departed the ISS. Robotics controllers remotely commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to let go of the USA space freighter sending it on a solo trajectory back to Earth.

Dragon moved itself to a safe distance from the ISS before performing departure burns to send it back to Earth.

SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean tonight, bringing science experiments and used hardware from the International Space Station back to Earth after dark.

This will be the first night-time splashdown and recovery for the Dragon with plenty of moonlight to track its entry, NASA said.

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"Dragon successfully splashed down, having made the fourth SpaceX mission to resupply the worldwide space station", - said in a statement.

The Dragon brought home with it several "critical space research" that will be picked up and "distributed to scientists across the nation". SpaceX's next mission won't see another cargo craft head to the ISS, that next mission is an uncrewed demo of the DM-1 crew capsule.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket have been occupying a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center for several days now while SpaceX prepares it for its upcoming test. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted photos of the spacecraft with its new crew walkway attached, raising excitement for the spacecraft's big day. The Commercial Crew Program's first launch is now targeted for February and will demonstrate ground systems, orbit to docking activities and landing operations.

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