Dragon Splashes Into The Pacific Ocean, Mission Success

Credit Michael Altenhofen

SpaceX Dragon lands in the Pacific Ocean.
The Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific and into the history books today, becoming the first privately-owned spaceship to make a round-trip journey to the International Space Station.

After deploying parachutes, the capsule splashed down about 500 miles west of Mexico.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, says Dragon arrived within a mile of its target.

“Well, I guess my thoughts are ‘Welcome home, baby.’ That’s what I’m thinking. I’m really looking forward to seeing it arrive at the port and then unloading the cargo with NASA and yeah, I feel really great, it’s like seeing your kid come home.”

Musk started SpaceX ten years ago, using some of his fortune from founding PayPal.

Although the company now has private clients lined up who want to launch satellites, the start-up sometimes struggled to survive.

“Recent years have been fantastic but early years were very difficult. It was particularly difficult in 2008 when the third flight of our Falcon 1 rocket, which is a smaller precursor to Falcon 9, when that third flight failed to reach orbit, that was very tough.  Because we were low on money and the economy was in a very difficult situation.”

But the test flight after that succeeded.

Now SpaceX is a main contender in a competition to become NASA’s go-to company for future cargo and crew transportation to the space station.

Musk says the company might make another cargo flight to the station as soon as three or four months from now.

It really shows that commercial space flight can be successful. And it was done obviously in close partnership with NASA but in a different way. And shows that that different  way works.”

SpaceX is currently building a new version of Dragon that will carry astronauts and can land on land.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...