SpaceX Dragon orbits, returns to Earth successfullyDecember 9, 2010
Yesterday (December 8) a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifted off from Cape Canaveral and put an 11,500 pound Dragon spacecraft into orbit at about 185 miles. Two orbits later, the spacecraft deorbited successfully and splashed down about 500 miles off the southern California coast.
This marks the first time a private company has successfully launched and returned a spacecraft from orbit. The spacecraft was unmanned, and is designed to carry either cargo (to the ISS) or up to seven passengers.
My sincere congratulations to Elon Musk and the entire crew at SpaceX. There’s no leftover military hardware here; all the engines were designed and built by SpaceX, as was the complete launch vehicle and spacecraft. Talk about a starting with a clean sheet of paper!