Skywatchers see SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft streak across the night sky as it returned to Earth

SpaceX's Dragon capsule streaks across night sky as it returns to Earth from a cargo replenishment mission to the International Space Station on September 30, 2021.
Anyone looking up on Thursday night (Sept. 30,) could have seen a bright streak that dangled down into the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s east coast. It was actually a SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply satellite returning to Earth from a trip to International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX's 23rd cargo resupply mission to NASA (CRS-23) took the Dragon to the ISS. It had been in space since August. The Dragon carried several tons of supplies, equipment, and science experiments for Expedition 65 crew members to the ISS. Among those experiments was a Hasselt University student project in Belgium, and Malta's first ever contribution to the ISS. It consisted of probing the microbes within the skin of foot ulcers.

Related: SpaceX Dragon launches a big science cargo to the space station for astronaut health and plant stress.

Here it is from Newnan, GA 1, 2021 See more

@SpaceX over a Georgia sky 1, 2021 See more

CRS-23 returned home on Thursday after more than a month in space. At 9:12 a.m. ET (1312 GMT), the capsule disembarked from the ISS as it flew over the Pacific Ocean. The capsule started its engines at 10:07 p.m. ET (0207 GMT Friday) to lift itself from Earth's orbit, and then began its descent into space.

Although I have seen Falcon 9 rockets fly from the sky and return safely to Earth, I have never witnessed a Dragon Spacecraft enter the atmosphere. This is @SpaceX's #CRS23 mission, which was launched last night off the coast Florida. @elonmusk 1, 2021 See more

The Dragon traveled eastward over North America for several minutes leaving behind a trail of bright light that could be seen from anywhere in the Southeastern United States. Earthlings could hear the Dragon's loud sonic boom as it passed through Florida and Georgia. It splashed into the Atlantic Ocean at 10:57 p.m. ET (0257 GMT) less than an hour after it had taken its first burn.

Wow, it flew right over my head. Just a minute later, a massive sonic boom !!!! #spaceX 1, 2021 See more

SpaceX and NASA will now begin to recover the Dragon capsule, along with the souvenirs that it brought back from the ISS. This includes several tons of equipment and some more science experiments. The reusable capsule will then be cleaned and prepared for its next flight. This is already the second time that this capsule has been to space.

After splashing in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's coast on Thursday, September 30, 2021, SpaceX's Cargo Dragon spacecraft was lifted onto a recovery vessel. SpaceX image credit

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