A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship has become the first commercial vehicle to complete two trips to the International Space Station (ISS).
CBS News reports that the re-usable Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Monday after a month-long mission. The Dragon was returning to Earth from the ISS to deliver over 4,100 pounds of experiment samples and equipment no longer needed on the station.
SpaceX officials confirmed the mission’s success with a tweet that said “Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed — completing first re-flight of a commercial spacecraft to and from the @Space_Station.”
The Dragon’s first voyage to the ISS happened in September 2014. The refurbished capsule had its second launch for an ISS resupply mission on June 3 on a Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon’s second ISS run was SpaceX’s eleventh supply mission to the space station.
Loaded with science samples, broken equipment and no-longer-needed supplies, the Dragon was detached from the forward Harmony module on the ISS on Sunday. The station’s robotic arm released the Dragon for a solo plummet back to Earth.
After a five-hour voyage, the capsule fired its braking rockets and entered Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery descent to its splashdown target. SpaceX recovery specialists quickly retrieved the Dragon to unload the high-priority science samples for delivery to researchers.
ISS crew member Jack Fischer, who operated the robotic arm that sent the Dragon on its way, tweeted a picture of the bright trail made by the Dragon capsule as it entered the atmosphere, commenting “beautiful expanse of stars — but the ‘long’ orange one is SpaceX-11 reentering! Congrats team for a successful splashdown & great mission!”