SpaceX's Dragon Returns to Earth from Space Station (NASA)
SpaceX's Dragon Returns to Earth from Space Station (NASA)NASA

 SpaceX's Dragon capsule returned to Earth on 18 May 2014 at 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT or 12:30a.m). It splashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California. The spacecraft carried over 3,500 lbs. of cargo to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dragon cargo spacecraft with Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 18 April, carrying about 5,000 pounds of science investigations and supplies to the space station and the Dragon was attached to the space station on 20 April.

SpaceX's Dragon carried back to the Earth 150 science experiments, including physical science investigations, biotechnology samples, biology studies and human research, according to NASA officials.

"The space station is our springboard to deep space and the science samples returned to Earth are critical to improving our knowledge of how space affects humans who live and work there for long durations. Now that Dragon has returned, scientists can complete their analyses, so we can see how results may impact future human space exploration or provide direct benefits to people on Earth." said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

Dragon is the only international space station resupply spacecraft that is capable of bringing huge amounts of cargo back to Earth. One of the Dragon science experiments that returned to Earth included drug-resistant bacteria investigating the change in gene expression in microgravity.

"While some of this data can be obtained by on orbit analysis, many analysis techniques have not been miniaturized or modified to allow them to be performed on orbit, which means sample return is the only way to obtain this data," said Marybeth Edeen, space station research integration office deputy manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement, according to

SpaceX plans to make 12 cargo resupply missions to the ISS by 2016 and Dragon is the third among SpaceX's plan under $1.6 billion contract NASA's Commercial Resupply Services.

The California-based company, SpaceX is not the only organization that holds a resupply contract with NASA. It also has a $1.9 billion contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation to fly eight missions using Cygnus spacecraft and its Antares rocket.

In June, Orbital Sciences is scheduled to launch its second cargo mission to the space station.