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First commercial spacecraft returns

The first commercial spacecraft designed to return to Earth has splashed down in the Pacific.

The capsule belonging to Space Exploration Technologies Corp - known as SpaceX - was launched three hours earlier from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket.

Nasa ordered the demonstration as a first step to handing over space station supply runs and, eventually, astronaut rides to private businesses.

Until now, only governments had managed to recover spacecraft re-entering from orbit.

SpaceX's spacecraft, called Dragon, circled the Earth twice before parachuting into the Pacific upon command. AP

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