SpaceX’s CRS-11 mission had plenty of history behind it. It was the first time the private space company launched a reusable Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). And it marked the 100th launch from the historic pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
It was from this pad the Apollo 11 mission to put the first humans on the moon launched.
Today, the SpaceX Dragon capsule is back on Earth. After touching space for the second time. In the pre-dawn hours this morning, the Dragon capsule left the ISS for the second time.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) July 3, 2017
Here’s the view from astronaut Jack Fischer aboard the ISS as the Dragon capsule reenters the Earth’s atmosphere again.
Beautiful expanse of stars-but the “long” orange one is SpaceX-11 reentering! Congrats team for a successful splashdown & great mission! pic.twitter.com/m5rMnXYZ1g
— Jack Fischer (@Astro2fish) July 3, 2017
About five hours after leaving the ISS, the Dragon capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX called it a “good splashdown.”
Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed—completing first re-flight of a commercial spacecraft to and from the @Space_Station.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 3, 2017
More than 4,000 pounds worth of cargo including a whole lot of science is back on Earth. Once the ship with the Dragon capsule reaches Long Beach, California, some of the cargo will be removed immediately and head to NASA. The capsule will then continue its journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas.
Onboard the capsule are several experiments including the Fruit Fly Lab-02 experiment (using fruit flies to understand how long-term exposure to microgravity affects the heart), the Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for osteoporosis (using rodents to test a new drug to rebuild bone and block bone loss), and the Cardiac Stem Cells experiment (how microgravity affects stem cells).
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule fills a vital role for NASA as the only resupply spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo back to Earth.
SpaceX will try to launch the Intelsat 35e again today
SpaceX was 10 seconds from launching its third rocket in just nine days on Sunday when the onboard computers scrubbed the launch. An issue with guidance systems was detected, and the computer automatically halted the launch.
That issue appears to have been corrected, and SpaceX will give it another go tonight at 7:37 pm ET. A live webcast should go live about 30 minutes before launch.
UPDATE: Scrubbed again at T-minus 10 seconds. The 10-second mark is one of the points where the SpaceX team and the onboard computers check a lot of data coming from the Falcon 9 rocket to make sure everything is good to go for launch. Something wasn’t the way it should be, and the launch was scrubbed. The next launch opportunity is set for tomorrow. We could be in for a round of SpaceX fireworks tomorrow evening (July 4th).
SpaceX is hoping to get this launch in before the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing closes the Eastern Range for two weeks of maintenance.
If this evening’s launch goes smoothly, SpaceX will have flown and returned vehicles on the same day. Without a Falcon 9 first-stage landing (today’s launch will not include a landing).