December 10, 2010
By Sarah Brown
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) brought its Dragon capsule down safely from low-Earth orbit Dec. 8, making it the first commercial company to re-enter a spacecraft from orbit.
The company launched the Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:43 a.m. The unmanned capsule orbited the Earth at speeds greater than 17,000 miles per hour, re-entered the atmosphere, and parachuted back to earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean shortly after 2 p.m., SpaceX announced.
“Just the launch is difficult enough, but successful launch, orbit, and intact reentry have been accomplished by only a few nations to date,” said NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. “The SpaceX mission today is the first time an entrepreneurial enterprise has joined this very elite company of space-faring entities.” Successful re-entry from low-Earth orbit had previously only been accomplished by the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency.
The test flight was conducted under a NASA contract set up to encourage private industry to ship cargo to the International Space Station.
For decades, pilots have headed to Bay Bridge Airport in the Chesapeake Bay for scenic coastal flying and great seafood. Check it out after attending the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In on Oct. 4.
A state-of-the art medical facility on remote Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay serves as a lasting memorial to the late Dr. David B. Nichols’ dedication to providing medical care to the community for 30 years. Now, Nichols’ aviation legacy—flying a Cessna 182 or Robinson R44 to the island every Thursday to provide that care—is set in stone.
The first A-29 Super Tucano was delivered Sept. 25, a tangible victory for Embraer and workers in the new factory in Jacksonville, Florida.
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