CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - - - An unmanned space capsule carrying medical samples from the International Space Station has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, completing the first official private interstellar shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA.
The California-based SpaceX company gently guided the Dragon into the water via parachutes at 12:22 p.m. Sunday, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast.
The supply ship brought back nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited cargo is nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year.
SpaceX launched the capsule three weeks ago from Cape Canaveral, full of groceries, clothes and other station supplies.
It's the second Dragon to return from the orbiting lab; the first mission in May was a flight demo.