UPGRADED SPACEX DRAGON DEPARTS INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION TO RETURN SCIENCE
Filled with several thousand pounds of supplies and scientific experiments, the uncrewed SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying out the company’s 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission for NASA undocked from the space-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module Jan. 12, headed for a splashdown off the coast of Florida to complete a five-week delivery run to the complex. For the first time, the upgraded Dragon cargo spacecraft undocked from Harmony, then conducted a series of thruster firings to move to a safe distance from the station for its deorbit burn and its high-speed reentry back to Earth. This upgraded Dragon transports significantly more science back to Earth than possible in previous Dragon capsules, and the return to the Atlantic Ocean will enable researchers to get some science back just four to nine hours after splashdown. Still docked to the station is the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Resilience” which brought four astronauts to the orbital outpost last November.