SpaceX just wrapped up yet another successfully resupply mission for NASA, dropping off a whopping 5,500 pounds of supplies for the scientists aboard the International Space Station and then returning back to Earth for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The return of the Dragon cargo spacecraft went as planned, with the capsule detaching from the ISS and then tumbling back to Earth on Monday afternoon. SpaceX tweeted the news that the spacecraft’s parachute deployed correctly and that the spacecraft had a “good splashdown” in the ocean.
The mission, which was the 17th resupply trip carried out by SpaceX, concludes at a time where SpaceX’s Crew Dragon project is under intense scrutiny. A number of weeks ago, a static fire test of the Crew Dragon resulted in the total destruction of the spacecraft, and details about what exactly went wrong have been slow to surface.
The “anomaly,” which is how SpaceX and NASA are terming the accident, occurred during a test of the Crew Dragon’s abort engine systems which would be relied on if a last-second abort would have to be made during a crewed mission. It’s an incredibly important feature that has to work flawlessly and, well, not blow everyone up.
At a recent meeting of a NASA Advisory Council committee, SpaceX was praised for doing “a great job” in reporting the anomaly, but the investigation into the accident is still ongoing.
Up until that unfortunate glitch, SpaceX had well ahead of rival Boeing in its race to deliver a crew-capable spacecraft to NASA. With the setback and subsequent investigation, it’s unclear how close either company is to sending humans into space from U.S. soil. In any case, SpaceX’s Dragon resupply missions seem to be going as well as ever, which is good news for the company.