Menu
Home

Air & Space

SpaceX's Dragon ship returns to Earth after space station trip

  • SpaceX Capsule splashdown 2012.jpg

    Oct. 28, 2012: An unmanned Dragon freighter that left the International Space Station with a stash of precious medical samples makes a Pacific splashdown to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA.AP Photo/SpaceX

  • SpaceX Capsule splashdown 2012 2.jpg

    Oct. 28, 2012: An unmanned Dragon freighter that left the International Space Station with a stash of precious medical samples makes a Pacific splashdown to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA.AP Photo/SpaceX

  • SpaceX Capsule docks 2012.jpg

    Oct. 10, 2012: The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is berthed to the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station's Harmony node.AP Photo/NASA

Another small step has been taken in the private space transport business.

An unmanned Dragon spacecraft carrying a stash of precious medical samples from the International Space Station parachuted into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, completing the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA.

The California-based SpaceX company successfully guided the Dragon down from orbit to a splashdown a few hundred miles off the Baja California coast.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden praised the "American ingenuity" that made the endeavor possible.

The supply ship brought back nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited cargo is nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year.

The Dragon is the only delivery ship capable of returning items, now that NASA's shuttles are retired to museums.