SpaceX Dragon Returned to Earth Today – Space Station Crew Studies Agriculture, Physics

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured departing the station in September of 2021 during a previous cargo mission. Credit: NASA

A U.S. space freighter returned to Earth today after undocking from the International Space Station on Sunday morning. Back on the orbiting lab, the seven-member Expedition 66 crew researched space agriculture and physics.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship ended its mission today returning to Earth over 4,900 pounds of science experiments and station hardware for analysis and inspection. Dragon had undocked from the station on Sunday at 10:40 a.m. EST.

Dragon fired its braking engines Monday afternoon dropping the cargo craft out of orbit and back into Earth’s atmosphere. The U.S. spacecraft parachuted to a splashdown off the coast Florida at 4:05 p.m. EST.

Meanwhile, space science continued on the orbital lab as the crew explored a wide variety of microgravity phenomena today. A pair of botany studies kept NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron busy with the duo investigating how to grow crops in space and how microgravity affects cotton genetics. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer installed hardware for the Fluidics experiment to study how to optimize fuel systems for spacecraft.

Maintenance is always ongoing aboard the station ensuring the crew stays healthy and lab systems operate successfully. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei started the day tearing down and stowing unused life support gear then photographed payload racks to document their current configurations. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn worked throughout the day on U.S. spacesuit batteries and chargers.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov spent the day conducting their complement of science and maintenance in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Shkaplerov used a myograph to measure his muscle strength in microgravity before routing air ducts inside the ISS Progress 79 cargo craft. Dubrov had some minor post-spacewalk cleanup work to do prior to swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

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