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SpaceX Dragon cargo ship returns to Earth from space station

The SpaceX-25 Dragon cargo ship with a sliver of Earth illuminated by the sun in the background on July 16, 2022.
SpaceX's 25th Dragon cargo ship returned to Earth with a splashdown near Florida on Aug. 20, 2022. Here, the uncrewed capsule is seen as it delivered supplies to the International Space Station on July 16, 2022. (Image credit: NASA TV)

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship returned to Earth with an ocean splashdown on Saturday (Aug. 20) carrying tons of science gear from the International Space Station. 

The uncrewed Dragon space capsule splashed down off the coast of Florida on time at 2:53 p.m. EDT (1953 GMT) after just over a month at the space station.

"Splashdown of Dragon confirmed, completing SpaceX's 25th cargo resupply mission to the space station," SpaceX wrote in a mission update on Twitter (opens in new tab) today. The company did not provide live views or images of the spacecraft's splashdown.

"Once Dragon has been retrieved by SpaceX's recovery team, the critical science aboard the spacecraft will be transported via helicopter to [NASA's Kennedy Space Center] and provided to researchers," the company added (opens in new tab) in a second Twitter post.

SpaceX launched the Dragon's SpaceX-25 mission from KSC on July 14, with the spacecraft arriving at the station two days later. It delivered 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of science experiments, crew supplies and other critical cargo to the station. 

On Friday, the Dragon spacecraft undocked from the space station, setting up its return to Earth on Saturday with about 4,000 pounds (1,815 kg) of science gear. That cargo included the results of a myriad of experiments on the station that will be delivered to eager scientists. 

SpaceX's Cargo Dragon capsules are uncrewed versions of the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft and designed to ferry supplies to and from the International Space Station under a multi-billion-dollar contract with NASA. SpaceX is one of two U.S. companies currently flying resupply missions to the station (Northrop Grumman is the other with the Cygnus spacecraft) with Sierra Nevada Space Systems also tapped to provide similar services for NASA with its planned Dream Chaser space plane. 

Russia's robotic Progress spacecraft also make regular cargo delivery missions, with the European Space Agency and Japan also flying their own cargo ships in the past. 

The space station is currently home to seven astronauts that make up the Expedition 67 crew. The crew includes three Americans, three Russians and one European. SpaceX launched four of those astronauts on a Crew Dragon as part of its Crew-4 mission for NASA.

SpaceX will launch NASA's next crew to the space station, called Crew-5, in September.

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.