SpaceX Dragon at the ISS (archive image)
A space freighter from the company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, made its way back to Earth from space on Sunday.
Live images from NASA showed how the "Dragon" capsule ignited its maneuvering engines and undocked from the International Space Station ISS.
The German astronaut Matthias Maurer and the two American crew members Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn had previously loaded the “Dragon” with two tons of scientific equipment and blood samples from the crew.
The blood samples will later be examined on Earth and provide information on how long-term missions affect human vision.
Maurer's test equipment also includes what is known as artificial intelligence, which, in combination with a smartphone attachment, can analyze the health of the eye.
"This is important because astronauts regularly develop eye problems," he explains.
The technology could also help on earth.
The unmanned "Dragon" capsule was supposed to undock on Friday, but NASA postponed the maneuver.
According to the American Space Agency, the weather in the landing zone off the coast of Florida was bad.
The "Dragon" is now scheduled to leave Earth's orbit on Monday, glide into the sea on parachutes and be recovered.
For Maurer it will soon be halftime on the International Space Station.
The 51-year-old started for the ISS in November.
Maurer is the twelfth German in space, the fourth on the ISS and the first to fly there in a Crew Dragon.
Around 400 kilometers above the earth, he will carry out experiments for around six months.
Around a hundred are planned during his planned stay until April, 36 of them are from Germany.
The last time a German astronaut was in space was Alexander Gerst in 2018.