SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule returned to Earth early Wednesday morning, creating a sonic boom and streak of light across the sky that startled panhandle residents.
According to NASA, the capsule, which was transporting “approximately 4,400 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo,” successfully landed off the coast of Tampa at 5:19 a.m. EST.
“Once Dragon has been retrieved by SpaceX’s recovery team, the critical science aboard the spacecraft will be transported via helicopter to [Kennedy Space Center] and provided to researchers,” SpaceX tweeted shortly after the landing.
The capsule’s safe return marked the company’s 26th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
Sonic booms, or the sound associated with shock waves created when an object travels faster than the speed of sound, though startling, are largely harmless.
Tyndall Air Force Base confirmed that SpaceX’s reentry was likely the cause of the sonic boom heard Wednesday morning.
For more information about what was being transported on the capsule, see NASA’s blog post about Dragon’s reentry.
Watch SpaceX’s capsule reenter the Earth’s atmosphere from near the Tallahassee airport
Video courtesy of Aaron Wray