NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be geared up for the long haul when they launch from the Kennedy Space Center on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft later this month, but they won’t know exactly how long they will be in orbit until they are already aboard the International Space Station.
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.
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).
For the final time, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule approached the International Space Station Monday for capture with the research lab’s robotic arm, delivering more than 4,300 pounds of food, experiments and spare parts. Future Dragon resupply missions will use a new spaceship design to automatically dock with the space station.