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SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth, ends historic trip to space

This framegrab image from NASA-TV shows SpaceX Dragcapsule just after capsule is released from Canadarm2 5:49 a.m. EDT Thursday morning

This framegrab image from NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon capsule just after the capsule is released from the Canadarm2 at 5:49 a.m. EDT Thursday morning May 31, 2012. The Dragon capsule is scheduled for splashdown at 11:44 a.m. EDT Thursday in the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/NASA)

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Updated: May 31, 2012 10:54AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The history-making Dragon spacecraft is back on Earth.

The unmanned cargo ship parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday, six hours after leaving the International Space Station. It brought back nearly 1,400 pounds of old gear.

The private SpaceX vessel is the first to return such a load since NASA’s shuttles retired last year.

SpaceX guided the Dragon’s descent through the atmosphere and splashdown off the coast of Mexico. A fleet of boats was in position, ready to receive the world’s first commercial craft to resupply the space station.

It will take a few days to transport the capsule by barge to Los Angeles. From there, it will be trucked to the SpaceX rocket factory in Texas for unloading and inspection.

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