With the success of the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon mission still fresh, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the flight "has really been better than I expected. It's actually almost too good."
The Falcon 9 lofted the Dragon capsule into orbit this morning at 10:43 a.m. EST, lifting off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a few miles south of the space shuttle launch pads. The Dragon returned to Earth at about 2:02 p.m., safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean following two orbits. It marked the first time a commercial company has recovered a spacecraft from orbit.
"There's so much that can go wrong and it all went right," Musk said. "I'm sort of in semi-shock."
NASA officials also were very pleased with the mission's results.
"This is really an amazing accomplishment for SpaceX," said Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Manager. "Thank you for the early Christmas present."
The mission was a demonstration flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, contract.
"We would not be here without the help of NASA, I cannot emphasize that enough," Musk said.