Musk's Dragon capsule splashes down after space station stay

The unmanned Dragon capsule from Elon Musk’s SpaceX has splashed down after a short stay at the International Space Station.

It is the first time a commercial space system built for humans has been successfully flight tested by NASA.

The capsule – containing a crash test dummy called Ripley – came down in the sea off Florida just before 9am local time.

Dragon launched on a rocket on Saturday, in a major step towards reviving America’s human spaceflight programme.

The rocket made 18 orbits of the Earth, before Dragon docked with the International Space Station on Sunday morning.

Space X’s billionaire founder Elon Musk tweeted a picture of Ripley inside the capsule.

The company said the dummy had around its head, neck and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.

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Dragon carried around 400 pounds (181kg) of supplies and test gear.

Space station crew have spent the last five days running tests on the capsule to see if it is safe to carry humans.

NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing $6.8bn (£5.2bn) to build competing rocket and capsule systems in a bid to launch astronauts from US soil for the first time since the space shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

It is aimed at ending reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the ISS, which costs about $80m (£60.6m) per ticket.

t is not the first time Musk’s space business has sent a dummy into orbit.

Last year, in a test of the powerful Falcon Heavy rocket, Musk launched his own Tesla with a dummy at the wheel towards Mars – although the launch missed and the roadster is now headed towards the asteroid belt.

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