This morning at 8:42 AM Pacific/11:42 AM Eastern SpaceX finished making history when the company’s Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX is now, officially, the first privately owned organization to send a vehicle to the International Space Station and return it safely to planet Earth. The age of privateers has officially begun.
Boats were dispatched to retrieve Dragon, which landed a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. Word is everything went off without a hitch. The capsule was unmanned so there’s no crew to worry about. They company will now make this a regular thing, they have a contract with NASA to carry supplies back and forth for the ISS crew. Dragon is, however, designed to be able to carry human astronauts and they do plan at some point to switch from unnmanned cargo flights to carrying crew. That may not happen, though, until 2015.
Dragon will now be taken by boat to a Los Angeles area port, then hauled back to the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, Texas where they’ll begin prepping it for another trip back to the International Space Station.