For the final time, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm Tuesday and splashed down hours later in Pacific Ocean southwest of Los Angeles. Beginning later this year, SpaceX will fly upgraded Dragon freighters that will dock automatically with the space station and parachute into the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida.
While production of rockets and satellites continues across much of the space industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, engineers at several space companies — including SpaceX, Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin — have started working on medical devices and protective equipment in response to shortages in hospitals across the United States.
A SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter departed the International Space Station Tuesday for return to Earth, wrapping up the 20th and final visit to the orbiting research complex for the current version of SpaceX’s supply ship before an upgraded Dragon starts launching later this year. Release from the space station’s robotic arm occurred at 9:06 a.m. EDT (1306 GMT), followed by splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 2:50 p.m. EDT (1850 GMT).