News Column

Private US Spacecraft Returns to Earth From Space Station

Oct. 30, 2012

The private U.S. spacecraft Dragon splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean, a few hundred kilometres west of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, at 1922 GMT Sunday, after delivering 400 kilograms of supplies and science experiments to the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), according to the SpaceX Twitter feed.

The unmanned cargo vessel, owned by the California-based company SpaceX, arrived at the ISS on October 10 after a two-day journey.

US astronaut Commander Sunita Williams and her Japanese counterpart, Akihiko Hoshide, used the station's robotic arm to detach Dragon for its journey home.

Dragon is the only craft now capable of bringing materials back to Earth from the ISS and was carrying some 760 kilograms of supplies, research and vehicle hardware.

Its visit was the first of a planned 12 deliveries to the station under a 1.6-billion-dollar contract with NASA.

Since NASA retired the ageing space shuttles in 2011, the U.S. has had to depend on Russia to get its astronauts and cargo to the ISS. The European and Japanese space agencies are also able to deliver cargo.

SpaceX's Dragon became the first private spacecraft to have docked at the International Space Station during a test flight in May.



Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


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