SpaceX crew capsule Dragon heads back to Earth from space station

This still image taken from NASA TV shows SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft safely aboard the company's recovery vessel following splashdown
ISS Crew Member Earth Continues Work Aboard the Station
Author

09 March, 2019

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday after more than six days in space, completing its demonstration mission for USA space agency NASA.

After landing in the ocean, SpaceX boated out to the capsule, and now plans to retrieve the spacecraft, lift it onto its recovery ship, and return to the Kennedy Space Center where the company houses rockets in a 54,000-square-foot hangar. For the Demo-1 test flight, the Crew Dragon transported a sensor-packed dummy named Ripley and some supplies to the ISS.

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

After dropping behind and below the lab, the Crew Dragon adjusted its orbit and jettisoned its empty trunk section, an unpressurized cargo compartment behind the crew compartment, to set the stage for entry.

The live view then switched to color cameras on SpaceX's recovery ship, the Go Searcher, which saw the drogue and main parachutes deploy successfully.

The Commercial Crew Program is the end result of a series of NASA-funded industry competitions in the wake of the shuttle's retirement to develop a new American spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

The splashdown is the final test for Crew Dragon, which has so far been successful in the flight test of the capsule that could become the first US craft to carry astronauts since the space shuttle program was phased out in 2011.

What made the reentry so flawless was that SpaceX gave a time of 8:45 a.m. EST as an estimate for when the vehicle would be back on the surface.

A few hours ago, the SpaceX Crew Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off the coast of Florida.

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Boeing's Starliner crew capsule is poised to launch its maiden unmanned mission in April ahead of an August test flight carrying US astronauts Michael Fincke, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann.

Once aloft, the SpaceX craft travelled to the space station, whizzing around the Earth at 28,163kmh, catching up early the next morning.

"We want to take a moment to recognize this milestone accomplishment that marks the inaugural mission of the commercial crew program", she said.

Friday morning's splashdown was the final hurdle of SpaceX's test flight. Called Demo-2, that flight will be a 14 day mission to the ISS.

On the Crew Dragon, he noted, "the windows will be down near our feet on this vehicle". "That [shape] could potentially cause a roll instability on reentry", Musk said.

The SpaceX project was undertaken together with the United States aerospace organization NASA, which now relies on the Russian space program and its Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to the ISS research facility.

The company, founded by celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk, has so far shuttled only cargo to the ISS.

"However, NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to validate the spacecraft's performance and prepare it to fly astronauts". "We've run simulations a thousand times, but this is a possibility". Following Saturday's launch, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said that he was "100 percent confident" crew would launch this year.


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