SpaceX's Dragon Crew Successfully Splashes Down

A SpaceX Dragon Capsule made a successful, and historic, return to Earth Friday morning.

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

The adorable interactions between the ISS crew and the toy began when NASA astronaut Anne McClain included the plush Earth toy in the welcoming ceremony of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. And Crew Dragon, as a first-timer to space, faced more risks than more tried-and-tested craft.

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

NASA officials confirmed around 2:30 am ET that the capsule successfully detached from the space station.

While Crew Dragon will be recovered from the ocean this time, the spacecraft was designed with the ability to make powered landings using its four side-mounted "Super Draco" thrusters.

NASA resumed talks with Russia's space agency Roscosmos in February seeking two additional Soyuz seats for 2020 to maintain a USA presence on the space station amid delays in the commercial crew program.

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.

The Crew Dragon never loses its built-in escape rockets, which eliminates that danger and simplifies the system overall.

The SpaceX capsule passed a crucial test on March 3, when the commercial spacecraft docked at the International Space Station. The spacecraft splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m. The parachute system that flew on this test flight was not entirely the same as the one that will be used for the crew flight, and neither were avionics and life support entirely finalized. SpaceX - which has been delivering station cargo for years - is shooting for summer.


An American spacecraft created to carry astronauts has successfully completed a six-day test mission.

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.

Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc.

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

On the Crew Dragon, he noted, "the windows will be down near our feet on this vehicle".

Indeed it is. Only NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have ever delivered astronauts to the space station.

Leading up to the re-entry, Musk had said he was anxious about whether the spacecraft would end up in an uncontrollable spin.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're headed with this flight".

Government officials still have safety concerns about both spacecrafts, according to a recent Reuters report and documents from NASA's safety advisory panel, all of which will need to be resolved before they can fly humans.

But after this week's SpaceX flight, if post-mission review determines the flight had no issues, we could see astronauts climb aboard the Crew Dragon by the end of the year.


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