Today, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:43 AM EST from the Air Force Station at Cape Canaveral.
The Dragon spacecraft orbited the Earth at speeds greater than 17,000 miles per hour, reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, and landed in the Pacific Ocean shortly after 2:00 PM EST.
This marks the first time a commercial company has successfully recovered a spacecraft reentering from low-Earth orbit. It is a feat performed by only six nations or government agencies: the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency.
It is also the first flight under NASA’s COTS program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services contract for NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.
View the press kit: http://www.spacex.com/downloads/cots1-20101206.pdf