Today In Manufacturing History: SpaceX's Dragon Re-Enters From Earth's Orbit

On this day in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft successfully re-entered from orbit, making SpaceX the first commercial company in history to do so.

The Dragon spacecraft, in excellent condition after its 50,000 mile mission, rests in its cradle for the 500 mile ride back to Los Angeles.
The Dragon spacecraft, in excellent condition after its 50,000 mile mission, rests in its cradle for the 500 mile ride back to Los Angeles.

On this day in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft successfully re-entered from orbit, making SpaceX the first commercial company in history to do so.

This was the first flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. SpaceX's Falcon 9 delivered the Dragon spacecraft to orbit which made two Earth-orbits before reentry. 

Image above illustrates COTS Demo 1 mission orbital path. The yellow triangle over the Atlantic ocean marks Dragon’s initial separation from Falcon 9, and the yellow square off the Western coast of the United States marks the location where Dragon landed. (Courtesy of SpaceX)Image above illustrates COTS Demo 1 mission orbital path. The yellow triangle over the Atlantic ocean marks Dragon’s initial separation from Falcon 9, and the yellow square off the Western coast of the United States marks the location where Dragon landed. (Courtesy of SpaceX)

According to SpaceX, the spacecraft's orbit met test objectives with 100 percent success — thermal control, communications and attitude were maintained. Eight payloads were deployed during orbit as well.

After its 50,000 mission, Dragon returned and was retrieved in "excellent condition," SpaceX said. According to the company, they will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station following the Space Shuttle's retirement per NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Both SpaceX and NASA hope to carry astronauts to the ISS as well. 

"This has really been better than I expected," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "It's actually almost too good."

The Dragon spacecraft, in excellent condition after its 50,000 mile mission, rests in its cradle for the 500 mile ride back to Los Angeles.The Dragon spacecraft, in excellent condition after its 50,000 mile mission, rests in its cradle for the 500 mile ride back to Los Angeles.
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