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SpaceX's Dragon in the Pacific Ocean  (Source: nationalgeographic.com)
At 12:22 p.m. PST on Sunday, the Dragon landed in the Pacific Ocean

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has safely returned from its first official journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

At 12:22 p.m. PST on Sunday, the Dragon landed in the Pacific Ocean approximately 250 miles off of the coast of southern California. SpaceX's capsule had left the ISS early Sunday morning.

The Dragon brought home 1,673 pounds of cargo from the ISS, including scientific samples, hardware and supplies. It took about 800 pounds of supplies to the ISS earlier this month.

The SpaceX recovery team is in the process of moving the Dragon to a port near Los Angeles by boat, where a portion of the cargo will be given to NASA. The rest of the cargo will be delivered to NASA after Dragon is shipped to the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas for processing.

"This historic mission signifies the restoration of America's ability to deliver and return critical space station cargo," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. "The reliability of SpaceX's technology and the strength of our partnership with NASA provide a strong foundation for future missions and achievements to come."

SpaceX stepped in with its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket as a means to send supplies (and eventually astronauts) to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. This left American astronauts with no way to the ISS except aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, but these seats became very costly.

SpaceX flew its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS for the first time back in May for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete 12 supply trips to the ISS and back.

On October 7, SpaceX made its first official supply run as part of that contract. It arrived October 10, and now, three weeks later, Dragon is back safely. The mission was a success.

Dragon is due to make its second run in January 2013. SpaceX is also looking to send the first manned Dragon capsule to the ISS somewhere between 2015 and 2017.

Source: SpaceX



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RE: congrats!
By Paj on 10/31/2012 10:12:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, very cool stuff. Good to see private enterprise taking to space - big things afoot.

Next step - private industry to develop a reusable spaceplane.
UK looks to be leading the pack with Skylon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylon_(spacecraft)


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