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Sonic boom heard in Gulf, Franklin counties as SpaceX capsule returns to Earth

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

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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