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SpaceX Dragon containing spacesuit parts from ISS returns to Earth

An uncrewed SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft has splashed down off the Florida coast, returning from the International Space Station (ISS) with a variety of scientific experiments on board.

The craft splashed down in the ocean near Cape Canaveral at 2:53 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 20, ending the 25th cargo mission to the ISS conducted by SpaceX. The Cargo Dragon undocked from the ISS’s Harmony module at 11:00 a.m. ET on Friday, August 19, traveling back to Earth throughout the day and overnight before arriving on Saturday afternoon.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise. NASA TV

The Dragon had been at the ISS for around a month, having arrived on Saturday, July 15, carrying more than 4,000 pounds of science research and supplies for the ISS crew. On the return leg of its journey, the spacecraft once again carried around 4,000 pounds of cargo back to Earth, including the results of various scientific experiments that had been conducted on the space station.

Among the items brought back to Earth were parts of a spacesuit or Extravehicular Mobility Unit, after an incident in March this year in which a leak caused water to pool inside the helmet of European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer during a spacewalk. NASA assured the public that Maurer was not in any danger from the water, but the incident did lead to the suspension of spacewalks so the issue could be investigated. Parts of the spacesuit that Maurer was wearing have been returned on the Dragon spacecraft for “further analysis and to address any possible fixes that may be needed,” according to NASA. The agency added, “The crew remains in good health, continuing their activities on the station, and there are no planned U.S operating segment spacewalks in the near future.”

Other items in the Dragon include the results of an investigation into how various materials and components stand up to the orbital environment, including parts for future spacecraft and wearable radiation protection, as well as a spacesuit cooling system and an experiment into using “bio-inks” to create band-aids made from a patient’s own cells if they are injured on the station.

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