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SpaceX Dragon Returns to Earth After Space Station Cargo Delivery

Update: The Dragon CRS-17 spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 5:48 p.m. EDT (2148 GMT).

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is returning to Earth today (June 3) after spending nearly a month docked at the International Space Station (ISS). 

The Dragon CRS-17 spacecraft departed the space station this morning and will end its journey home with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean around 5:55 p.m. EDT (2155 GMT, 2:55 p.m. local time), according to NASA's ISS blog. Flight controllers expect the spaceship to splash down about 202 miles (325 kilometers) southwest of Long Beach, California. 

Splashdown will occur nearly six hours after the Dragon's departure from the ISS, where the Canadarm2 robotic arm released the craft into space today at 12:01 p.m. EDT (1601 GMT). After drifting a safe distance away from the orbiting laboratory, the spacecraft will fire its engines for a deorbit burn starting at 4:56 p.m. EDT (2056 GMT). Although NASA did provide live video of the Dragon's departure from the ISS, there will be no live coverage of the splashdown this afternoon, agency officials said. 

Related: Weird Science: Nanoparticles, Algae and Organs on SpaceX Dragon

SpaceX's Dragon capsule departs the International Space Station on June 3, 2019. NASA astronaut Christina Koch, an Expedition 59 flight engineer aboard the station, snapped this photo of Dragon before its departure.

(Image credit: NASA)

When it launched to the space station on May 4, the Dragon was packed with about 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms) of experiments and other supplies for the six-person crew of Expedition 59. After the astronauts unloaded the Dragon, they stuffed it full once more with cargo —  more than 4,200 pounds (1,900 kg) of which is science experiments — including the results of a month-long study of the immune system's response to weightlessness.

"Several critical experiments have wrapped up aboard the orbiting lab with the completed results and hardware being packed inside the Dragon," NASA officials said in a statement. "After the space freighter splashes down Monday, it will be towed to shore where the finalized research will be distributed to labs around the world for analysis."

This SpaceX Dragon cargo ship was the sixth such vessel to complete multiple trips to the ISS; the reusable spacecraft also flew on the CRS-12 mission in August 2017. The next SpaceX Dragon cargo ship is scheduled to launch to the ISS on July 8. 

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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