Dragon Returns to Earth, Starts New Chapter for Spaceflight

The SpaceX capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday after splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean, the company confirmed.

SpaceX launched on a test flight from Florida's Cape Canaveral earlier Wednesday. The Dragon capsule lifted off atop the Falcon 9 rocket for a three-hour trip around the Earth at speeds of 17,000 miles per hour.

All three of SpaceX’s parachutes were deployed safely before it landed in the Pacific, the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft re-entering from low-Earth orbit.

"SpaceX is the first commercial company to reenter a spacecraft from space!" a tweet from the company’s Twitter page read.

The operation was aimed at showcasing the capsule's ability to launch and separate from the Falcon 9 rocket and orbit Earth.

The capsule could supply the International Space Station after NASA retires its space shuttle fleet next year.