Updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue, Jan 05, 2021

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What SpaceX Dragon Brought Home

Falcon 9 launch vehicle

(Photo : SpaceX) SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts-off

SpaceX's Dragon is back on earth, splashing onto the Pacific Ocean about 300 miles west of Baja, California on Saturday, but what exactly did it bring home?

About 3,276 lb. of cargo and science samples that it would return to NASA. 

When it left, the spacecraft brought with it about 5,000 lb. of supplies and experiments to the ISS where it stayed for about one month. The cargo included food, clothing and equipment such as a 3D printer and new EMU batteries.

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It also carried 20 mice, referred to as "Mousetronaut," inside a new hardware system that served as its long-term accommodation inside the ISS. The mice, part of the Rodent Research-1, came back on the Dragon, bringing with it findings on the effect of microgravity on animals and providing data relevant to human spaceflight as well as more discoveries on basic biology and information that could directly affect human health on Earth.

The Dragon also returned with the 3-D printer that tested the ISS ability to produce parts cheaply on demand and which alllowed a critical technology demonstration. Also part of its return cargo is a device called the ISS RapidScatterometer that brought forward NASA's understanding of Earth science.

Lastly, it had with it the results of a study on dependable food supply through the experiment on the growth of the arugula plant as scientists sought the best methods to grow plants in space that are not only edible but also provide the highest nutritional content.

"This mission enabled research (is) critical to achieving NASA's goal of long-duration human spaceflight in deep space," quoted Sam Scimemi, ISS director at NASA headquarters.

He continued, "The delivery of the ISSRapidScattermeter advances our understanding of Earth science, and the 3-D printer will enable a critical technology demonstration.

Investigations in the return cargo could aid in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics, the development of plants better suited for space, and improvements to sustainable agriculture."

Launched on Sept. 21, SpaceX stayed at the International Space Station (ISS) and marked its end of mission with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific ocean at 3:38 pm. Eastern time, according to

Dragon is the only spacecraft that could travel to the ISS and return to Earth with a considerable amount of cargo.

After its launch atop of SpaceX's Falcon 9v.1.1 launch vehicle, Canada's Space Station Remote Manipulator System grabbed it by the tail and carefully translated SpaceX towards its orbital on Earth.

With its return to Earth, Dragon will be transported by a vessel to a port near Los Angeles. Then the cargo would be offloaded and returned to NASA within 48 hours, while the spacecraft would be returned to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas for processing.

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