The reusable Dragon CRS-11 (Dragon CRS1-11) capsule, having been undocked/unberthed at 1800 GMT on 2 July 2017, was fully released by the International Space Station (ISS), utilising its robot arm, at 0641 GMT on 3 July 2017. Dragon CRS-11 then performed five hours of free flight while controllers prepared the craft for re-entry.

Illustration of Dragon commercial resupply vessel with trunk attached. Courtesy: SpaceX


At approximately 1140 GMT the Dragon CRS-11 spacecraft began a 10 minute sequence of de-orbit burns to slow the capsule and place it on the proper heading for re-entry. Following the de-orbit burn the Dragon spacecraft’s external payload trunk was separated off from the return capsule to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The Dragon then reoriented to put the heat shield out in front and commenced re-entry.

Once safely through the hot plasma stage of re-entry, drogue chutes and then the main chutes were successfully deployed to slow the vehicle for splash down in the Pacific. This was safely achieved off the coast of Baja California at around 1214 GMT on 3 July. It was recovered from the sea and taken to the Port of Los Angeles before being shipped to Texas for cargo removal.

The Dragon CRS-11 freighter mission which was being flown on behalf of NASA by SpaceX, used a refurbished reusable capsule which was originally launched on 3 June by a Falcon 9 rocket. It’s first mission was the Dragon CRS-04 cargo mission to the ISS in September 2014.