20120525 iss031e071534 SpaceX Dragon spacecraft delivers scientific research safely to Earth

SpaceX has safely and successfully completed its second cargo flight to and from the International Space Station, with the Dragon spacecraft landing in the Pacific Ocean with a payload of scientific research from NASA.

SpaceX has safely and successfully completed its second cargo flight to and from the International Space Station, with the Dragon spacecraft landing in the Pacific Ocean with a payload of scientific research from NASA.

 
The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 1 March, carrying 1,268 pounds of supplies and investigations. It has returned with 2,668 pounds of science samples, equipment and education activities, including freezer packed research collected in the space station's microgravity environment.
 
“The scientific research delivered and being returned by Dragon enables advances in every aspect of NASA's diverse space station science portfolio, including human research, biology and physical sciences,” said Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program scientist. “There are more than 200 active investigations underway aboard our orbiting laboratory in space. The scientific community has eagerly awaited the return of today's Dragon to see what new insights the returned samples and investigations it carries will unveil.”
 
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Some of the investigations are believed to hold the key to aiding food production for long-duration space missions, findings which could also help improve crop production on Earth. Other research involves more efficient solar cells, detergents and semiconductor-based electronics. There are also samples from the astronauts, which will be analysed to see the effects of long-duration spaceflights on the human body.
 
This is the second of 12 planned SpaxeX missions to the International Space Station through 2016, thanks to a lucrative contract with NASA. Given the success so far, it will not be surprising to see the deal extended. 
 
However, SpaceX is not the only company vying for a slice of the commercial space market, which has seen a recent boom in competition thanks to government cuts for space agencies. Orbital Sciences Corporation is planning a demonstration flight of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft, which will fly to the space station later this year.
 
20120525 iss031e071534 SpaceX Dragon spacecraft delivers scientific research safely to Earth
Images Credit: SpaceX