SpaceX Cargo Dragon returns from International Space Station after 36-day stay

Cargo Dragon C209 departs the Space Station (Credit NASA/Thomas Pesquet)

After 36 days docked to the International Space Station, a SpaceX Cargo Dragon successfully splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida.

In all, the Cargo Dragon, C209, spent 39 days in space after launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 21st.

Cargo Dragon C209 shortly before undocking from the ISS (Credit NASA)

This was the first mission to the Space Station to utilize the new Crew Access Tower at SLC-40 which allows for easier access to the Dragon and late loading of cargo.

The Cargo Dragon undocked from the ISS at 11:10 pm ET on April 28th and autonomously backed away from the orbiting outpost before beginning its trip back to Earth. The trunk, which has power-generating solar panels and can hold additional cargo, was jettisoned shortly before the Cargo Dragon began its deorbit burn, fiery re-entry through the atmosphere, and eventual smooth splashdown with its four main parachutes.

The spacecraft returned over 4,000 lbs of experiments and other cargo from the Space Station. Time-sensitive experiments were picked up by a helicopter and flown back to Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX recovery ship Shannon was on hand to scoop the capsule out of the water and will bring it back to Port Canaveral where it will undergo refurbishment before its next flight.

This specific Cargo Dragon has now been to the Space Station and back four times. spending a total of 140 days in space.

Now that this Dragon has left, Crew 8 will suit up and get back into their own Dragon, Endeavour, to relocate it from the forward port of the Harmony module to Harmony’s zenith por,t which will take around 45 minutes.

This move will make room for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, which will make its first crewed visit and has a planned launch date of May 6th.

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SpaceX Cargo Dragon returns from International Space Station after 36-day stay
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