SpaceX ‘Dragon’ capsule leaves space station, heads back to Earth
US private firm SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon capsule undocked from the International Space Station (ISS), to return to Earth. The capsule is carrying more than 1,580 kilograms of science samples and NASA’s old equipment.
NASA depends on SpaceX and other private companies to replace the Space Shuttles, which were finally retired in July 2011, and had brought supplies and astronauts to and from the space station.
SpaceX has signed a $1.6 billion deal with NASA for a total of 12 of supply missions. SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada have also been engaged by NASA to develop private space ships capable of transporting people to the space station and other destinations in orbit, with a launch expected in 2017. That would end the US reliance on Russia’s Soyuz capsules to carry US astronauts to and from the space station, at a cost of $70 million per person.