The ship parachuted into the Pacific Ocean at 11:42 a.m.New York time, about 560 miles off the coast of southern California. It returned with about 1,400 pounds of cargo.
“Splashdown successful!!!” Musk tweeted after today’s landing.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retired its shuttle fleet last year and wants the private sector to take over ferrying supplies and eventually astronauts to the station. SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, may begin regular resupply missions to the lab in September.
Astronauts released the so-called Dragon capsule from the station’s 60-foot-long robotic arm at 5:49 a.m., according toNASA.
“Dragon smoothly undocked, moved out, released and on its way home,” Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers tweeted from the space station. “Job done!” he wrote in another post.
The docking of the SpaceX Dragon with the International Space Station earlier this month served as a milestone for the emerging field of privately funded space travel. This week, Richard Branson's dreams of joining the commercial space flight race with his own Virgin Galactic program got a boost thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Scaled Composites, the company developing the spacecraft for Virgin Galactic, received an experimental launch permit from the FAA for the rocket-powered phase of testing for its suborbital spacecraft, SpaceshipTwo.
"This important milestone enables our team to progress…bringing us a major step closer to bringing our customers to space," said George Whitesides, president and CEO of Scaled Composites. "We thank the FAA for their timely issuance of this permit, and for their responsible oversight of the test program."
Although the flamboyant and outspoken billionaire has made much of his aspirations tied to Virgin Galactic, the key difference between Branson's venture and that of SpaceX's Elon Musk is that the former is still focused, at this point, on suborbital travel, rather than the true orbital space flight currently being executed by the Dragon.