SpaceX Dragon takes fiery ride from ISS back to Earth today

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at

UPDATE: The SpaceX Dragon successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 1042AM ET. History made, with the first commercially-built and operated space flight to the International Space Station now successfully completed.

Six days after it berthed with the International Space Station on an historic mission to prove that it could, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle left the ISS today and is now headed back toward our planet. SpaceFlightNow has live streaming video coverage:

The resupply craft was released from the robotic arm at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for 11:44 a.m. EDT (1544 GMT).

NASA has a HD video feed here, if you prefer.

Artist’s rendition of Dragon spacecraft returning to Earth like a burning meteor. (SpaceX)

Space journalist Miles O'Brien spoke with CNN earlier this morning about the day's significance. On his blog, Miles writes:

With the shuttle fleet pickled, chocked and either in – or on their way to museums, Dragon is the only vehicle designed to haul cargo back to Earth in tact. Freighters from Russian, Europe and Japan are more like trash incinerators – as they do not have heat shields and parachutes designed to insure a safe landing.

Dragon is carrying just shy of 1400 pounds of cargo. More than it hauled up.

On board, about 300 pounds of crew preference items (lots of mementoes for friends and family), 200 pounds worth of scientific experiments, and nearly 800 pounds of station gear including a pump for the station urine recycling system (yes, they drink their own pee up there…).

Dragon will re-enter the atmosphere like a streaking meteor – as its ablative heat shield burns away - protecting the spacecraft from the searing heat.

Read the rest here.

Dragon is targeted to land in the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles west-southwest of Los Angeles. After splashdown, a ship will recover Dragon, and the capsule will be flown via airplane to a SpaceX site in Texas for post-flight analysis.

Dragon smoothly undocked, moved out, released and on its way home. (NASA/ESA, André Kuipers)

Dragon in the grip of the Space Station's robotic arm, before a release toward Earth. (NASA)


  1. Love to see the Dragon coverage on BB; I was up most of the night watching the livestream on NASA TV. That said, Dragon isn’t the only capsule built for docking with the ISS. Orbital has also had a contract with NASA to develop the Cygnus spacecraft, which should be performing its first ISS mission this summer or fall.

    1. they said that it’s coming in off the coast of CA, I don’t know if it’ll be visible though, 

      anyone know?

  2. Space X just landed.  There is some stuff bugging me about this.  It is an amazing achievement for any company,  just wanna make that clear,  but frankly they are wisely using a very tried and true approach emulating the Apollo missions, perhaps the must successful govt. missions in history (at least PR-wise) – so frankly that s been done – and they are doing it now with more advanced computers and materials.  Also,  business has been sending stuff into space (unmanned) for ages now.   So that s not really new either.  Other countries do have space programs,  some that can actually put humans in space (and send them back to earth) , so the whole “it s a new age” thing bugs me there.  It s very American-centric.  There are more viable space programs around the world now than ever before, it was only the U.S. which decided to go backwards for awhile and dismantle it s largest concentration of space – faring knowledge.  I even saw a Canadian anchorwoman asking if this will usher in the age of space tourism, but as we know this industry has been going on for awhile now.  Sometimes it seems if it s Russsian, Chinese, British/European,  or Japanese,  it just doesn’t exist. So the Dragon mission starts to look like more corporate propaganda.   Sorry,  just had to get that stuff off my chest.

    1. It was never lack of options that was preventing space tourism and the commercialization of space. The problem was with cost and SpaceX is far far cheaper (<$1000/lb) than anyone else for getting to low earth orbit. That's why it is a breakthrough.

      1.  SpaceX isn’t at $1000/lb yet; that will require their larger boosters (not yet built) or reusability of stages (not yet achieved).

    2. It’s been a long time since any country has developed a space capsule that will splash down intact. That’s something. It’s true that it has been done before, but it hasn’t been done for decades. The only other available system is Soyuz.

      Also, this flight is a precursor to bigger, better stuff. That’s exciting.

  3. Did anyone else notice that for all the newfangled high-techness of the 21st century, the video images from space are crappier than ever?

  4. Of course they recycle fluids. A spaceman’s flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe.

Comments are closed.