There is a great deal of beauty in the exploration of space. There are vast swaths of stars. Views of the Earth that will take your breath away. The flames of a rocket are launched by fiery rocket tongues. A picture of a SpaceX cargo Dragon spaceship returning to the earth from orbit provides us with a new viewpoint, one that conveys a calm beauty in a simple manner.
The picture was released by SpaceX on Friday, after the return of the CRS-23 Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station in the middle of the night. Even though there were no people on board, the cargo ship was crammed with samples from scientific studies that had taken place aboard the space station.
“Dragon reenters Earth’s atmosphere before splashing down off the coast of Florida – completing the fifth reentry of a Dragon spacecraft this year,” SpaceX tweeted.
Dragon reenters Earth’s atmosphere before splashing down off the coast of Florida – completing the fifth reentry of a Dragon spacecraft this year pic.twitter.com/3NDt1MuVKK
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 1, 2021
The route of the spacecraft, which ultimately parachuted to its splashdown landing, is highlighted by the slowly bending stream of light across the sky. The clouds are glowing, and the sky reflects off the water, transforming this picture into one that represents not just Dragon, but also the place it is returning to.
Ben Cooper, the photographer who captured the image, told CNET that the sensation was similar to “watching a shooting star, but slower and more quiet.” A sonic boom may have been heard by those who were closer to the reentry route.
The subjects covered by the study conducted on Dragon include anything from neurodegenerative disorders to muscular atrophy. With a splashdown in Florida close to the Kennedy Space Center, the samples may be collected and placed in the hands of experts within hours of landing. NASA said in a statement on Thursday that the shorter transit time period enables researchers to gather data with the least amount of loss of microgravity effects possible.
The cargo ship had been docked at the International Space Station (ISS) since late August. Cargo missions are usually given less attention than crewed missions, but the breathtaking picture of Dragon’s homecoming is well worth pausing for a few minutes to take in the breathtaking scenery of the universe.