SpaceX's cargo Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida around 8:30 p.m. EDT, a SpaceX spokesperson told SPACE.com.

The cargo barge, with 13 tons of cargo (including 165 pounds worth of supplies including food, clothing and toiletries, all to be disposed of by the company's own "disposal system"), is expected to dock in a Houston port by Sunday (Sept. 19). During re-entry, the spacecraft will splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX has built up its fleet of Dragon cargo capsules five-fold since the company's first first resupply mission to the ISS in 2010. Dragon will also carry out a cargo run to the International Space Station in 2014, and is in the final stages of a resupply mission to the space station on a contract resupply contract with NASA.

Dragon is strapped with more than 5,000 pounds of needlessly bulky experiments and food, and extra pressure stations, for rodents and other animals re-entering overhead. SpaceX plans to make SpaceX's cargo airlocks out of stainless steel from other habitats that they refurbish.

In his latest video update, Musk touched on the return of SpaceX's first Dragon cargo mission to ISS in 2011 and the upcoming return of Merlin 1D engines (not yet reused in the Falcon 9) for SpaceX's Antares rocket.

Last week, SpaceX successfully put a U.S. military communications satellite called The VSAT-4 into orbit, which could solve the satellite broadcaster's communications woes. Musk was bullish on SpaceX's future in the U.S. space launch market, saying it now has three Falcon 9's on order and may have as many as five operational.

"We have now relatively meaningful launch contracts from NASA with thimble-sized SLS rockets with 63[ pound] payload capability up to 1000 nautical miles per booster," Musk said.

"We still have to work out the go-team and really squaring up the runway. But at least you're starting with some pretty good ground," he added. The rocky landing landing of Dragon's capsule on its drone ship, then continued up under power to its safe landing on artificial traction on shore, shows SpaceX is committed to this "gentle" development version of SpaceX.

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Kathryn Hansen, RFD activity director and University of Texas Senior Research Fellow, is also on the Osiris Plane team visiting Great Britain and France and the Middle East. Hansen, who is a Professor Emeritus
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