A NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured SpaceX's Dragon capsule as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on its way to a splashdown Monday in the Pacific Ocean.
Astronaut Jack Fischer photographed the Dragon in flight as it left behind a trail of light early Monday. The photograph was taken just before the capsule splashed into the Pacific west of Baja California.
"Beautiful expanse of stars - but the long orange one is SpaceX-11 re-entering! Congrats team for a successful splashdown and great mission," Fischer commented.
Fischer's Instagram page is full of stunning photos of Dragon and other views from his seat aboard the space station.
As for the Dragon mission, SpaceX announced on Twitter that the capsule hit the water off the California coast shortly after 5 a.m. Monday.
After being released by the space station's robotic arm, the capsule completed a 5 1/2-hour journey back to Earth. SpaceX recovered the spacecraft and will transport it back to California.
Cargo from the space station will be sent to NASA for analysis. Those items include the Fruit Fly Lab-02 experiment, which is an effort to better understand the effect of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart. An experiment to test a new drug that can rebuilt bone and prevent more bone loss and another involving cardiac stem cells also returned in Dragon.
It was the craft's second delivery trip to the space station. Previously, the Dragon carried supplies and equipment to the orbiting module in 2014.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, is working to reuse as many parts of its rockets and spacecraft as possible to slash launch costs.