SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida around 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday with 4,400 pounds of scientific research and other cargo.
It marks the completion of SpaceX’s 21st resupply mission for the International Space Station. The company launched the Dragon with 6,400 pounds of supplies in tow on a Falcon 9 rocket on December 6.
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Research equipment on board will be quickly transported to the processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center space station within four to nine hours. The cargo from previous splashes in the Pacific Ocean had to be transported to SpaceX and NASA facilities in Texas.
Some of the science on board will contribute to research on “how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue level using 3D designed heart tissue,” according to a press release from NASA.
Further research following this trip will examine “the benefits of using microgravity for cutting-edge developments in regenerative medicine” and “specific techniques of using a sextant for emergency navigation on spacecraft such as NASA’s Orion ”.
This upgraded Dragon cargo capsule allowed the mission to carry 20% more cargo than the previous version of the ship and increased the amount of science and research to bring home.
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This Dragon spacecraft was also autonomously docked and undocked to the International Space Station for the very first time, as the Canadarm2 robot was used by astronauts to tie up older freighters.