SpaceX Dragon capsule docked at ISS after four-day mission

Image copyright NASA Image caption The rocket blast is the longest mission ever from the ISS SpaceX has landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets back on Earth after completing a four-day mission to…

SpaceX Dragon capsule docked at ISS after four-day mission

Image copyright NASA Image caption The rocket blast is the longest mission ever from the ISS

SpaceX has landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets back on Earth after completing a four-day mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

The rocket and its Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico, landing on a drone ship.

Four astronauts are among the dozens of supplies, equipment and scientific experiments aboard the capsule.

The mission was the longest spaceflight for a private company, exceeding NASA’s own record.

The capsule reached the station’s Harmony module on Tuesday, doubling the amount of cargo it was carrying.

Astronauts will disconnect and inspect the capsule on Friday, giving SpaceX a chance to attach it to a docking port.

The SpaceX landing

Image copyright SpaceX Image caption There will be a slow and cautious removal of the capsule on Friday

This is the first touchdown of a privately-owned cargo ship at sea.

The capsule glided back down to Earth at about a second per second, taking some six minutes to come to rest.

The Falcon booster splashed down three-quarters of a mile away in the Pacific Ocean.

A manned launch from Florida to the space station is planned for late 2020.

The company announced last week that it is in talks with Nasa about developing a crew-carrying version of the Dragon capsule, which is also being used to deliver supplies to the station.

The rocket’s boost

Image copyright AFP Image caption This is the first time a privately-owned cargo ship has landed in the Pacific

The shipment is packed with some 5,600lb (2,600kg) of food, water, science experiments and equipment for the six astronauts on board.

It was the fifth resupply mission from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral launch pad and its fourth successful trip into orbit.

The company has shown it can fly its rockets to space and land them back on Earth. It also landed a Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December after launching six satellites for the Arabsat.

Later that month, SpaceX also flew a Falcon 9 for the first time from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, landing one of its booster rockets on an unmanned drone ship.

SpaceX is one of two US companies, along with Boeing, contracted by Nasa to fly astronauts to the space station.

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