SpaceX Launches, Collects Dragon Space Capsule
[Satellite TODAY 12-09-10] SpaceX placed its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket Dec. 8 and the capsule splashed down into the Pacific Ocean about three hours later , the company announced.
The Dragon spacecraft completed nearly two orbits during its test flight. This is the first time a commercial company has recovered a spacecraft re-entering from low-Earth orbit, SpaceX said.
This was the first flight under NASA’s COTS program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. Dragon’s next scheduled mission is a fly-by of the ISS, where the Dragon will come within six miles of the orbiting station. The first manned Dragon mission to the ISS is scheduled to take place in 2011.
"This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems that will help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit. This successful demonstration flight is an important milestone in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama and Congress, and shows how government and industry can leverage expertise and resources to foster a new and vibrant space economy," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.