SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship returns from ISS with science experiments

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft has successfully returned to Earth from the International Space Station carrying a variety of scientific investigations that were conducted in space. The capsule splashed down near the California coast on Tuesday, according to SpaceX, which says its ship transported dozens of US National Laboratory scientific research projects.

Around 9 AM ET on April 7, the SpaceX Dragon CRS-20, an uncrewed spacecraft, was released from the International Space Station's robotic arm; soon after, it splashed down in the waters near California, where it was successfully retrieved and brought back to land. This marks the final resupply mission that will be conducted by this version of a Dragon cargo ship, according to the private space company.

The Dragon spacecraft spent around 30 days attached to the ISS before returning to Earth carrying scientific payloads. Examples of the investigations brought back from space include a rodent research project that shipped to the ISS in 2019 and that is sponsored by the Baylor College of Medicine.

With this animal model, researchers will be better equipped to understand the effects of microgravity on metabolism and the circadian rhythm. As well, astronauts shipped back the BioFabrication Facility from Techshot, the nation's first bioprinter sent to the space station. Other returned experiments include ones involving heart muscle cells and tissue chip investigations.

A number of scientific experiments are conducted on the ISS, some from private companies that pay to have their investigations carried out in the microgravity environment. Cargo resupply missions are regularly sent to the ISS carrying important supplies; the ship returns to Earth loaded with items that need to be removed from the station and returned to Earth.