SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth, ends historic trip

SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth, ends historic trip

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early May 22, 2012 as it heads for space carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station in a few days. AFP PHOTO / Bruce Weaver (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/GettyImages)

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by MARCIA DUNN

AP Aerospace Writer

Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:52 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The history-making Dragon spacecraft is back on Earth.

The unmanned cargo ship parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday, six hours after leaving the International Space Station. It brought back nearly 1,400 pounds of old gear.

The private SpaceX vessel is the first to return such a load since NASA's shuttles retired last year.

SpaceX guided the Dragon's descent through the atmosphere and splashdown off the coast of Mexico. A fleet of boats was in position, ready to receive the world's first commercial craft to resupply the space station.

It will take a few days to transport the capsule by barge to Los Angeles. From there, it will be trucked to the SpaceX rocket factory in Texas for unloading and inspection.

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