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SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Returns Critical NASA Science To Earth

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft successfully completed the company's second cargo flight to the International Space Station on Tuesday, March 26, with a 12:36 p.m. EDT splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

"The scientific research delivered and being returned by Dragon enables advances in every aspect of NASA's diverse space station science portfolio, including human research, biology and physical sciences," said Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program scientist. "There are more than 200 active investigations underway aboard our orbiting laboratory in space. The scientific community has eagerly awaited the return of today's Dragon to see what new insights the returned samples and investigations it carries will unveil."

Science being conducted aboard the space station includes research on physical and biological processes that cannot be done anywhere else, applied research to improve lives on Earth, and exploration research to help humans move safely beyond Earth orbit.

A boat will take the Dragon capsule to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a freezer packed with research samples collected in the space station's unique microgravity environment. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth. The spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 1, carrying about 1,268 pounds (575 kilograms) of supplies and investigations. It returned about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples, equipment and education activities.

Investigations included among the returned cargo could aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and enhance crop production on Earth. Others could help in the development of more efficient solar cells, detergents and semiconductor-based electronics.

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