Mar 26, 2013 08:23 PM EDT
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SpaceX Capsule Lands Safely; Elon Musk Ushers In New Era Of Privatized Space Travel

By Stefan Lopez
(Photo : REUTERS) The SpaceX Dragon capsule is seen here attached to the International Space Station. It landed in the Pacific today without a hitch.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk is at it again, this time delivering another batch of cargo from the International Space Station back to Earth.

SpaceX's Dragon capsule landed off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula without a hitch today, splashing in the Pacific about five hours after it had departed from the International Space Station.

"SPLASHDOWN! At 9:34am PT [12:34 p.m. ET], Dragon splashed down safely in the Pacific. Welcome home!" SpaceX tweeted.

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The Dragon capsule carried with it numerous supplies and experiment materials from the 250-mile high space station, some of those were the same materials it had originally delivered on its original voyage to space earlier this month.

In all, the mission went relatively smoothly. The Dragon capsule that returned today "will be shipped to Los Angeles and then trucked to Texas for unloading," and that "mechanical trouble delayed the capsule's arrival at the space station by a day, and bad weather at mission's end kept it in orbit an extra day."

The SpaceX company is owned by Elon Musk, a billionaire who also owns the increasingly popular Tesla Motors brand. SpaceX has developed what is currently the only vehicle in the world capable of making a round trip to the space station and back.

This was the second of an expected 12 missions that the SpaceX company is expected to complete on behalf of NASA. They are getting paid roughly $1.6 billion to do so, as all of NASA's shuttles now reside in museums after budget cuts greatly inhibited the program.

This shut down of NASA's shuttle service and subsequent reliance on SpaceX is a privatization trend that is sure to grow in the coming years. There are already many talks of launching full-fledged space tourism trips in the not-so-distant future, as well as at least one entrepreneur trying to allocate funds to mine for precious metals on nearby asteroids. With the success of Elon Musk and his SpaceX team, travel to space may now be more about bottom line profit than ever before.

 

 

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