SpaceX Dragon cargo ship splashes down

Dragon departing

SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo spaceship looms above the International Space Station just before its release from the station’s robotic arm. (NASA / CSA Photo / David Saint-Jacques)

A robotic SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean today, bringing two tons of scientific experiments and other hardware back to Earth a month after its launch to the International Space Station.

Nearly six hours after the Dragon was released from the space station, NASA and SpaceX reported a “good splashdown” at 2:48 p.m. PT, about 200 miles southwest of Long Beach, Calif.

Among the experiments carried back down from orbit were Biophysics-6, a protein growth experiment that could produce purer pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment and radiation protection; Genes in Space-6, which marked the first experiment to use CRISPR gene-editing tools and could open the way to DNA repair in deep space; and Microalgae Biosynthesis in Microgravity, which studies the effects of zero gravity on an algae that could produce antioxidant supplements for future astronaut diets.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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