SpaceX Dragon cargo ship departs space station and returns to Earth

SpaceX's Dragon CRS-27 cargo ship backs away from the International Space Station after undocking from the outpost on April 15, 2023.
SpaceX's Dragon CRS-27 cargo ship backs away from the International Space Station after undocking from the outpost on April 15, 2023. (Image credit: NASA TV)

A robotic SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule is returning to Earth today (April 15) after a month parked at the International Space Station.

The Dragon CRS-27 supply ship undocked from the International Space Station at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) as both spacecraft orbited high over the Indian Ocean, beginning an hours-long trip back to its home planet. It  splashed down off the Florida coast at about 4:58 p.m. EDT (2058 GMT), SpaceX wrote in a Twitter update.

"After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida on Saturday, April 15," NASA wrote in blog post. NASA will not livestream the Dragon capsule's splashdown.

Related: Facts about SpaceX's Dragon capsule

The Dragon launched into orbit from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 14, kicking off SpaceX's 27th robotic cargo run to the orbiting lab for NASA.

The Dragon carried up about 6,300 pounds (2,860 kilograms) of supplies on its mission, which is known as CRS-27. (CRS stands for "commercial resupply services.") The cargo included a variety of hardware, 60 different scientific experiments and some gustatory treats for the station astronauts.

"The crews requested some fresh fruit and refrigerated cheeses," Phil Dempsey, NASA's International Space Station Program transportation integration manager, said during a CRS-27 prelaunch press conference on March 13. "So on board are apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges [and] cherry tomatoes, as well as a few different cheeses."

The CRS-27 Dragon will carry about 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg) of "experiment hardware and research samples" down to Earth with it today, according to the NASA blog post.

This is a unique capability of the SpaceX capsule. The other two robotic cargo craft that currently service the space station — Russia's Progress vehicle and Northop Grumman's Cygnus — are designed to burn up in Earth's atmosphere when their time in orbit is up.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:45 pm ET to reflect the successful undocking of the Dragon CRS-27 spacecraft.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.