A “significant amount of water” was found inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship after it came back to Earth from the International Space Station on Sunday, Aviation Week reports.
The Dragon capsule, currently the only spacecraft that can bring items from the space station back to Earth, splashed down into the Pacific Ocean about 300 miles west of Baja California on May 18.
The capsule returned to Earth with more 3,500 pounds of science experiments and other items, including a freezer filled with research samples, NASA said.
Although the source of the water was initially thought to have come from some of the samples, NASA officials now believe there was some kind of breach in the spacecraft, causing seawater to spill inside.
A NASA official confirmed to Business Insider that water was found inside the capsule, but said there was no indication of damage to any of the NASA cargo or other payload inside.
The discovery was made when the Dragon hatch was opened at the port in California, space station deputy manager Dan Hartman said in a mission overview briefing. “It has not caused us any impacts that we know of,” Hartman said.
There were “several gallons” of water in the cargo ship, according to SpaceFlightnow. Sources told Aviation Week there was more water “than could be accounted for by a burst water-transport bag,” which is why officials think the water may have come from the ocean.
“When we started unloading cargo, we noticed our bag was intact,” Hartman told Spaceflightnow. “They had some kind incursion through a port or a relief valve. They’re off investigating it.”
According to Spaceflight, “Hartman said the Dragon returned in rough seas, which may have contributed to the water spilling inside.”
The bulk of the cargo is now on its way back to handling facilities in Houston and the Dragon spacecraft is headed for McGregor, Texas.
The Dragon was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket to the space station on April 18, fulfilling its third of 12 resupply missions required under their $US1.6 billion contract with NASA.
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