SpaceX has confirmed that the Dragon capsule used to ferry cargo including supplies and experimentation material has returned to Earth as planned, with a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The Dragon went up to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s CRS-12 resupply mission, which launched in August. Dragon brought a number of experimental payloads to the ISS, including a supercomputer built by HPE that is designed to test whether software hardening alone, without any additional hardware changes vs. a standard supercomputer configuration, can keep the computer operating as intended in the harsh conditions of space.
Dragon was also loaded up with experimental results and other cargo during its month-long stay at the ISS, and with good splashdown and proper deployment of its parachutes after re-entry, those should be intact and ready for Earth-based researchers to analyze.
This is the 12th successful ISS resupply mission SpaceX has conducted using one of its Dragon cargo capsules. The capsule used this time around is also intended to be the last brand new capsule SpaceX employs for this purpose – from now on, it hopes to only use refurbished Dragons used on previous missions.
SpaceX first re-used a Dragon capsule back in June of this year, and while the company later said that its first attempt really didn’t actually save it any money vs. using a new one, it hopes to gain efficiencies over time by turning around Dragon for repeat use more quickly and easily.