Private space cargo ship on way back to Earth
An UNMANNED supply ship left the International Space Station yesterday with a stash of precious medical samples, and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with Nasa.
Astronauts aboard the station used a giant robot arm to release the commercial cargo ship from 255 miles up in space.
The supply vessel, operated by the California-based privately owned company, SpaceX, is bringing back nearly 900 kilograms of science experiments and old station equipment. The most eagerly awaited cargo is said to be nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year.
The Dragon spacecraft is the only delivery ship capable of returning items, now that Nasa’s shuttles are retired to museums. Atlantis made the last shuttle haul to and from the station in July 2011.
SpaceX – more formally, Space Exploration Technologies Corp – launched the capsule three weeks ago from Cape Canaveral, Florida, full of groceries, clothes and other station supplies. Ice- cream as well as fresh apples were especially appreciated by the station’s crew of six.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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