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SpaceX Dragon Comes Home To Earth Carrying UCF 'NanoRocks' Microgravity Experiment

First Posted: May 24, 2016 06:00 AM EDT
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SpaceX Dragon capsule has returned to Earth on Wednesday, along with some valuable science from NASA cargo, including samples from the  one-year space mission. Less than six hours following departure from the International Space Station, the spacecraft fell into the Pacific waters off the Southern California coast. The Dragon carrier was reported to have been supported by the three red and white-striped parachutes to slow down its final descent.

The SpaceX Dragon had stayed at the station for about a month to drop off supplies and an experimental, inflatable room that pops open in two weeks. The experimental room was set free by the big robot arm of the station. Also, there were almost  4,000 pounds of items that filled the Dragon, including the urine and blood samples of astronaut Scott Kelly from his one-year space mission and came back in March. Researchers are expected to use the medical specimens to analyze how the body survives the long journeys in space, as preparation for subsequent mission to Mars in the 2030s, Denver Post reported.

In addition, the  SpaceX Dragon was carrying a UCF microgavity experiment named "NanoRocks." The experiment aims to study the collisions at low speeds in the microgravity domain provided by the space station.  Headed by UCF physics professor Joshua Colwell, this experiment was chosen through a competition sponsored by Space Florida and NanoRacks and Space Florida. According to reports, it was among the eight selected and awarded in 2014, with a free ride to the space station through the SpaceX Dragon carrier.  

Meanwhile, the team of physics professor from UCF has been tracking data transmitted from the space station for the last two years, which means the experiment has now reached its goal. Colwell said that they are all excited to get the cargo back, for them to begin improvements for an eventual microgravity experiment, according to Orlando Sentinel

SpaceX Dragon's return signifies the aircraft's initial return journey from the space station in a year. Last summer's launch failure has prevented the California-based space company for months while the launch probe was on-going.

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