Historic First Flight of Private Space Capsule

On December 8, the U.S. firm Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) became the first company in history to achieve the successful launch and re-entry of a private space capsule. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launched from Florida at 10:43 a.m. EST and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean around 2:00 p.m. EST.

The flight was a demonstration flight for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The Dragon capsule, the first commercial spacecraft to receive an FAA atmospheric re-entry license, is designed to provide future cargo flights to the International Space Station under a fixed price contract with NASA. SpaceX will also market the capsule to commercial customers as the DragonLabTM.