The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship that flew to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 5, 2018, has finally come home. The Dragon capsule returned to Earth with a splash — quite literally — after acing an ocean landing in the early hours of Monday morning.
Launched on SpaceX's 16th resupply mission to the ISS, or CRS-16, the cargo vessel has spent the last 36 days docked with the station's Harmony module.
Dragon was originally scheduled to return home on January 10. However, its stay at the orbital research facility was prolonged for a few days due to unfavorable weather at the landing site, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
The capsule eventually left the space station on January 13. After a second delay occurred on the same day, when the operation was pushed back three hours — also on account of bad weather — the spacecraft was finally released by the ISS' Canadarm2 robotic arm at 6:33 p.m. EST, NASA announced in a blog post.
"Farewell Dragon!" Expedition 58 astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency wrote on Twitter. "Canadarm2 just released SpaceX-16 capsule, returning experiments to scientists around the world."
Splashdown After Midnight
Following a six-hour journey to Earth, the Dragon capsule plunged through the planet's atmosphere and parachuted to its designated landing site. The spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of Baja, California, a few minutes after midnight.
According to Space, the cargo vessel was initially slated to land at 12.14 a.m. EST. But, based on the splashdown confirmation time, as announced on Twitter by SpaceX, Dragon arrived home two minutes earlier than expected.