Yesterday, in the American afternoon, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft ended its CRS-25 (Cargo Resupply Service 25) mission for NASA splashing down smoothly off the Florida Coast. The Dragon left the International Space Station last Friday. For SpaceX, this was the 5th mission of the 2nd contract with NASA to transport supplies to the Station with the new version of the Dragon cargo spacecraft.
Shortly after the splashdown, SpaceX’s recovery ship went to retrieve the Dragon to transport it to the coast. The cargo brought back to Earth will be delivered to NASA within a few hours. The Dragon spacecraft reached the International Space Station on July 16, 2021.
The Dragon spacecraft brought back to Earth more than 1,800 kg (more than 4,000 lbs) of mixed cargo that include various scientific experiments and biological samples. Part of the samples is contained in the freezers because they need to be kept at low temperatures. The new version of the Dragon space freighter has twice the capacity to transport samples to Earth as the first version.
SpaceX is the only American company that has a spacecraft capable of bringing intact cargo back to Earth so the Dragon missions are really important for NASA. Samples produced during many of the experiments conducted on the International Space Station may require in-depth analyzes possible only in specialized laboratories on Earth. The cargoes are delivered to NASA within no more than 9 hours.
Among the experiments reported to Earth for in-depth analysis are Materials International Space Station Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA), which examines the impact of the environment in low-Earth orbit on new materials and components, Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE), a new technology to cool spacesuits during extravehicular activities, and Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid), an ESA experiment to produce a kind of biological patch.
The next resupply mission for the Dragon space freighter could begin in November 2022 but that’s a tentative schedule. The new version of this spacecraft is passing all the tests regarding its reuse, and for the first time, one of them ended its third mission.