Dragon is back again!

The CRS-8 Dragon capsule that launched from Florida a month ago (setting into motion the historic first controlled sea landing of a rocket) has now returned to Earth.   I haven’t found any video of the splashdown, but here’s its departure from Station:

It carried a lot of critical experiments up, and on the way down it’s carrying things like biological specimens, but the big deal for this flight was the BEAM it carried in its (now-discarded) unpressurized trunk compartment.  The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is currently mated to the aft port of the Tranquility node, but is not scheduled to be inflated until later this month.  It isn’t really  meant as a fully operational module, and for the start at least, crews are only planning to make brief excursions into the module, sealing it up when not in use.  But if all goes well, Bigelow Aerospace plans for it to become the first of a whole family of orbiting space habitats.

The next Dragon capsule is scheduled to fly in late June.  Its primary payload will replace what was lost on the CRS-7 launch failure: a docking adapter stored in the trunk section.  Boeing is contracted to deliver two of those, and NASA is exercising an option to have them build a third out of flight spares to replace the one that was lost.  NASA needs two docking adapters at Station so as to be able to host two commercial crew vehicles simultaneously, so the upcoming flight will be absolutely critical to the return of human spaceflight from US soil.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s