SpaceX capsule returns space station science to Earth

Carla Harmon
March 20, 2017

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on February 23 and is set to leave early Sunday (March 19).

The SpaceX Dragon is pictured seconds before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The craft was launched into space by a Falcon 9 rocket in February.

It's equipped with a heat shield that allows cargo to be shipped back to Earth; the journey took five hours and it splashed down off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. The space capsule was retrieved easily from there by a recovery team.

The capsule left the space station after being released by Expedition 50 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Shane Kimbrough of NASAusing a robotic arm right on schedule, at 5:11 a.m Sunday.

SpaceX then recovered the capsule from sea, and loaded it on a cargo ship to be returned to port.

Some of the materials inside the Dragon will be removed and delivered to NASA immediately.

Samples from the Tissue Regeneration-Bone Defect study, a U.S. National Laboratory investigation sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, studied what prevents vertebrates such as rodents and humans from re-growing lost bone and tissue, and how microgravity conditions affect the process.

Various types of space research are carried out on the ISS. Some of the material sent back to Earth via the Dragon will undoubtedly shed light on the progress of these important studies.

Few biological studies which are underway as the ISS and whose data the spacecraft has brought includes analysis of the effect of microgravity on the stem cells. It will also provide knowledge on the spread of cancer in the body and ways of treating it.

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