SpaceX Mission Comes to a Successful End

A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the
Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday, Oct. 28, a few hundred miles west of Baja
California, Mexico.

The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight
contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.

“With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded
American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at
the cutting edge of innovation and technology development,” NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Just a little over one year after
we retired the Space Shuttle, we have completed the first cargo
resupply mission to the International Space Station. Not with a
government owned and operated system, but rather with one built by a
private firm — an American company that is creating jobs and helping
keep the U.S. the world leader in space as we transition to the next
exciting chapter in exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and the
NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission
possible.”

The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles,
where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test
facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be
removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48
hours. This includes a Glacier freezer packed with research samples
collected in the orbiting laboratory’s unique microgravity
environment. These samples will help advance multiple scientific
disciplines on Earth and provide critical data on the effects of
long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The remainder of the
cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and
will be tremendously beneficial to the station’s research community.
Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners
been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for
analysis.

The Dragon launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station in Florida, on Oct. 7. It carried 882 pounds of
cargo to the complex, including 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390
pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several
pounds of other supplies. This included critical materials to support
166 scientific investigations, of which 63 were new. Returning with
the Dragon capsule was 1,673 pounds of cargo, including 163 pounds of
crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, and 518 pounds of
hardware.

The mission was the first of at least 12 cargo resupply missions to
the space station planned by SpaceX through 2016 under NASA’s
Commercial Resupply Services contract.

SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo
spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
(COTS) program. Orbital Sciences is the other company participating
in COTS. A demonstration flight of Orbital’s Antares rocket and
Cygnus spacecraft to the station is planned in early 2013.

NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency’s Commercial Crew Program
are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation
industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective
transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In
addition to cargo flights, NASA’s commercial space partners are
making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the
next five years.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance
these commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is
developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a
crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new
capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for
launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will
expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions
of exploration in the solar system.

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