SPACE: Dragon spacecraft safely returns to Earth

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) last week completed the first commercial spacecraft mission this morning at 11:42 a.m. EDT. NASA confirmed splashdown of Dragon to Earth in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday morning, May 31, 2012. Parachutes were deployed before reaching the water, then detached. Recovery aircraft and ships monitoring Dragon’s return to Earth plucked the scalded, but secure, spacecraft from the Pacific shortly after it landed.20120531-231257.jpg

CLICK HERE for more CBS 6 News coverage of the SpaceX Dragon mission.

Dragon was tentatively scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 11:44 a.m. EDT after undocking from the ISS robotic arm at 5:49 a.m. EDT. The goal splashdown location was southwest of Los Angeles, CA, with the exact location of Dragon reported by NASA as 27 degrees latitude N, 120 degrees longitude W, which puts it on target.

Google Map of splashdown location (green arrow)

Google Map of splashdown location (green arrow)

The recovery ship spotted the chutes very near the target landing spot moments before splashdown, reached Dragon minutes later, and then removed the parachutes from the vessel. An aircraft will pick up Dragon from the water next.

Here is the first image from a NASA aircraft monitoring Dragon bobbing in the water:

SpaceX official statement on splashdown just before Noon EDT: “The SpaceX Dragon capsule made a water landing off the coast of Baja California, Mexico at 11:42 a.m. EDT (1542 GMT). Recovery ships have spotted the capsule and are en route to collect the vehicle to tow to Los Angeles.”

Watch Dragon undock from the ISS early Thursday morning here:

CLICK HERE for more on the historic commercial spaceflight.

NASA TV coverage: click here to watch it.

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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