Late Thursday night (September 30) in the Southeastern United States, anyone looking up could have seen a brilliant streak, descending into the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida. It was actually a SpaceX Dragon supply spacecraft returning to Earth after a trip to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Dragon, which flew to the ISS as part of SpaceX’s 23rd NASA Resupply Mission (CRS-23), had been in space since August. He went to the ISS carrying several tons of supplies, equipment and scientific experiments for the Expedition 65 crew. These experiments included a student project at the University of Hasselt in Belgium and the very first contribution from the island of Malta to the ISS: probing the microbes inside the skin of foot ulcers.
Related: SpaceX Dragon launches large science transport to space station for astronaut health, plant stress and more
Here he is from Newnan, GA pic.twitter.com/oLWipFtVpAOctober 1, 2021
@SpaceX on a Georgia sky pic.twitter.com/vOT98BtitIOctober 1, 2021
After more than a month in space, CRS-23 returned to Earth on Thursday. The capsule detached from the ISS at 9:12 a.m. EDT (1:12 p.m. GMT), as it flew over the Pacific Ocean. At 10:07 p.m. EDT (02:07 GMT Friday), the capsule triggered its engines to exit Earth orbit and begin its descent into the atmosphere.
I have seen Falcon 9 rockets fall from the sky and land safely on Earth, but I have never seen a Dragon spacecraft reenter the atmosphere. This blazing streak in the sky is @SpaceX bringing his mission # CRS23 to a water landing off the coast of Florida last night. @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/YMlUA06aYoOctober 1, 2021
Over the next few minutes, the Dragon crossed east over North America, leaving a luminous trail in its wake, visible from across the Southeastern United States. As it passed through Florida and Georgia, the Terrans could even hear its loud sonic boom. At 22:57 EDT (02:57 GMT), less than an hour after its first fire, it slammed down in the Atlantic Ocean.
Wow it just flew over my head. A minute later a huge sonic boom !!!! #spaceX pic.twitter.com/dNM1ii8x6DOctober 1, 2021
From now on, SpaceX and NASA will work to recover the Dragon capsule and the memories it brought back from the ISS: several tons of equipment and the results of a few additional scientific experiments. Then, the reusable capsule will be cleaned and prepared for its next launch; already, this is the second time that this particular capsule has flown into space and vice versa.
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