Ship Photos of The Day – Fishing for the SpaceX Dragon

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Preparing to detach. Photo: SpaceX

On Tuesday, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule detached from the International Space Station at 3:56am PT and splashed down safely almost 6 hours later about 200 miles off the coast of southern California. Shortly afterwards, the Dragon was picked up by a recovery ship and secured on deck, all cargo intact. The capsule was carrying about 3,000 lbs of cargo and packaging from the ISS, according to SpaceX.

Dragon is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft developed privately by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Initiated by SpaceX in 2005, the Dragon spacecraft is made up of a pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members.

In May 2012, SpaceX made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments — the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency — had achieved this challenging technical feat.

Today’s safe landing marked the completion of the Dragon’s second mission, known as CRS-2, under NASA’s $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. The contract includes a minimum of 12 flights, with an option for additional missions.

Dragon Splashdown (CRS-2):

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Dragon’s return to Earth. Photo: SpaceX
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Splash down at 9:35 PT. Photo: SpaceX
Recovery boats approach Dragon after splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. Photo: SpaceX
Recovery boats approach Dragon after splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. Photo: SpaceX

GIF Sequence:

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Dragon Retrieval (from CRS-1):

Dragon spacecraft and two of the three main parachutes shortly after splashdown, May 31, 2012. Courtesy NASA
Dragon capsule and two of the three main parachutes shortly after splashdown on May 31, 2012. Courtesy NASA
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on the barge after being retrieved from the Pacific Ocean after splashdown, May 31, 2012. Photo: SpaceX
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on a barge after being retrieved from the Pacific Ocean after splashdown on May 31, 2012. Photo: SpaceX

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