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Dragon Ship Back On Earth After Space Station Trip

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket attached to the cargo-only capsule called Dragon lifts off from the launch pad on October 7, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is bringing cargo to the International Space Station that consists of clothing, equipment and science experiments. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket attached to the cargo-only capsule called Dragon lifts off from the launch pad on October 7, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is bringing cargo to the International Space Station that consists of clothing, equipment and science experiments. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — 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.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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