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SpaceX capsule ends mission with a splash

SpaceX via Reuters
The SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday, capping a successful nine-day test flight.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Triumphant from start to finish, the SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday to conclude the first private delivery to the international space station and inaugurate NASA’s new approach to exploration.

“Welcome home, baby,’’ said SpaceX’s elated chief, Elon Musk, adding that watching the old-fashioned splashdown was “like seeing your kid come home.’’

The goal for SpaceX, he told reporters, will be to repeat the success on future flights.

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The unmanned supply ship scored a bull’s-eye with its arrival, splashing down into the ocean about 500 miles off Mexico’s Baja California. A fleet of recovery ships pulled the capsule aboard a barge.

It was the first time since the shuttles stopped flying last summer that NASA got back a big load from the space station, in this case more than half a ton of experiments and equipment.