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.