SpaceX capsule back on Earth, paving way for new manned US flights

11 March, 2019, 20:37 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • This still image taken from NASA TV shows SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft safely aboard the company's recovery vessel following splashdown

A SpaceX rocket launched the 16-foot-tall (4.9-meter) capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Saturday.

Space station crew members are smitten with the toy.

After a six-day mission to the International Space Station, Crew Dragon detached at about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) and sped back to earth, reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) splash-down about 200 miles (320 km) off the Florida coast.

NASA passed a major milestone Friday in its goal to restore America's human spaceflight capability when SpaceX's Crew Dragon returned to Earth after a five-day mission docked to the International Space Station.

To really make sure the capsule is capable of handling a lot of stress and then some, the capsule that the test will be carried on is the same one that has now landed back on Earth; of course, the Crew Dragon will be refurbished before its next test mission. "You see some orange light flickering."While Dragon's crew member was a dummy named Ripley this time, the mission sets the stage for a manned flight, which will see two United States astronauts - one of them Behnken - book a return trip to the ISS sometime before the end of the year, according to NASA".

First commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft to dock with the space station.

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First autonomous docking of a USA spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The Dragon pulled away from the station early Friday, and an Atlantic Ocean splashdown is expected Friday morning. "It was lovely", said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.

Crew Dragon carried a passenger on this flight test - a lifelike test device named Ripley, which was outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in the spacecraft.

"For the first time, we've gotten to see an end-to-end test, and so now we've brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we've gotten to see how they all work together, and that's very important as we move toward putting people onboard", he said.

The Crew Dragon during atmospheric re-entry. "Not exactly time to fully exhale, but another big milestone behind us", said Lori Garver, the former deputy administrator of NASA who took part in awarding the initial contracts to SpaceX. Assuming all went well, an abort test of the Crew Dragon will happen in June, followed by the Demo-2 test, in which the capsule will deliver two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the ISS.

In the meantime, three Expedition 58 crew members living aboard the space station - NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko - have adopted "little Earthy" as an unofficial rookie in training.

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