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Space X Dragon Spacecraft Returns To Florida
by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral, FL (SPX) Jul 03, 2011

Photo of actual Dragon spacecraft after its first successful orbital flight. SpaceX photo by Mike Altenhofen.

On December 8, 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to launch, fly, land and recover a spacecraft from low Earth orbit. Now through July 10, 2011, that spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon, will make its first public appearance in Florida since its historic inaugural flight.

SpaceX, in coordination with the Air Force Space and Missile History Center, will host a public viewing of the Dragon capsule through July 10 on the grounds of the History Center, located just outside the South Gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).

Dragon's inaugural launch served as an important step toward ensuring the future of US-based space programs following shuttle retirement. Having the spacecraft back in Florida will serve as a reminder that the US has a strong future in space exploration, and that American vehicles will continue to launch from Florida after the last flight of Atlantis in July.

The Air Force Space and Missile History Center will offer extended hours to the public during this time, remaining open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday through the final date of the exhibit. The facility offers free public access and houses historic hardware and visual displays that highlight all active and deactivated CCAFS launch complexes from the past 50+ years of flight.

Additionally, the Center features 10 large displays, including a Mercury capsule, Atlas and Titan rocket engines, and a launch console from Launch Complex 19 (Gemini Program).

"This spacecraft made history last December, and it started its space journey here in Florida.

We are excited to bring Dragon back to the state. We are also pleased to work with the Air Force Space and Missile History Center to display Dragon for the public to see," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. "With the space shuttle now retiring, Dragon will serve a critical role in next-generation US space exploration programs." "Putting the Dragon capsule on display at the History Center will complement the current exhibits, which highlight past, present and future launch activities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station," said Emily Perry, Air Force Space and Missile History Center Director.

With an additional NASA demonstration flight slated for later this year from CCAFS, SpaceX will become the first U.S. commercial launch services company to successfully demonstrate and execute US-based cargo transport capability to the International Space Station through Dragon.

Dragon is the first commercially manufactured space transport vehicle and will play a key role in the country's next generation of manned space exploration initiatives.

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