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NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur prepares frozen research samples July 8 aboard the International Space Station for transfer and stowage inside the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship.

A SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship splashed down at about 10:30 p.m. July 9 in the Gulf of Mexico near Tallahassee, Florida, completing a trip from the International Space Station that began July 8.

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. 

Among the scientific investigations Dragon returned were:

Lyophilization-2 examines how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and could result in improved freeze-drying processes for pharmaceutical and other industries. Freeze-drying also has potential use for long-term storage of medications and other resources on future exploration missions.

Molecular Muscle Experiment-2 tests a series of drugs to see whether they can improve health in space, possibly leading to new therapeutic targets for examination on Earth.

Oral Biofilms in Space studies how gravity affects the structure, composition and activity of oral bacteria in the presence of common oral care agents. Findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis.

The Payload Operations Integration Center at Marshall Space Flight Center oversees all experiments and science communications aboard the station.

Dragon launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. The spacecraft delivered more than 7,300 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost. Dragon’s external cargo “trunk” carried six new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, two of which Expedition 65 crew members Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency installed during three spacewalks June 16, 20 and 25.

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