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SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft Expected To Land on Earth on Monday

The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to reach Earth on Monday.

After spending over a month in the orbit, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft left the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday and is expected to land on Earth on Monday night, NASA said.

“The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was released from the ISS today at 6.33 p.m.,” NASA said in a statement on Sunday.

“Dragon will parachute to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Monday at 12:15 a.m. then will be towed to port in southern California by a SpaceX personnel,” it added.

This will be the first night–time splashdown and recovery for the Dragon with plenty of moonlight to track its entry, NASA said.

Astronaut Anne McClain onboard the ISS monitored the activities from the cupola and watched Dragon perform a series of departure burns as it separated itself to a safe distance from the orbital lab. Integrated operations between mission controllers in Houston and SpaceX controllers in California stop when Dragon reaches a point about 1 km away from the station.

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A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. VOA

The commercial cargo vessel will bring home a variety of critical space research, including ISS hardware to extracted for analysis, refurbishment or discarding, NASA said.

Dragon was launched on ISS on December 8 with more than 5,600 pounds of science and supplies. The spacecraft completed a 36-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module.

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The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1.

The Commercial Crew Program’s first launch is currently targeted for February and will demonstrate ground systems, orbit to docking activities and landing operations. (IANS)

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NASA’s Future Scientists Would Likely Be Better Equipped To Study The Lunar Material

"By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond."

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NASA
Astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt collects lunar rake samples during the Apollo 17 mission, Dec. 13, 1972. VOA

NASA is once again turning its focus to the moon.

Nearly 50 years after the last lunar mission, the U.S. space agency is unsealing some of the samples brought back by Apollo astronauts for study.

The lunar samples were collected by astronauts during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions.

Some of the samples have never been opened, others were resealed in an effort to preserve them.

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“This exploration will bring with it new and unique samples into the best labs right here on Earth.” Pixabay

NASA has picked nine teams of scientists to study the samples. The teams were selected from scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center, the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, the University of Arizona, the University of California, Berkeley, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the University of New Mexico, Mount Holyoke College and the Planetary Science Institute.

NASA
The lunar samples were collected by astronauts during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. Pixabay

“By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This exploration will bring with it new and unique samples into the best labs right here on Earth.”

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NASA said its officials in the 1970s had the foresight to know that future scientists would likely be better equipped to study the lunar material. (VOA)