Built Capsule With a Dummy Aboard Docks at Space Station

Olive Hawkins
March 6, 2019

The unmanned test flight is meant to demonstrate SpaceX's ability to safely and reliably carry astronauts to and from the ISS.

Applause and cheers broke out at SpaceX's control center in Hawthorne, California as Crew Dragon attached itself to the ISS, Space.com reported.

A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lofted Dragon to orbit from LC-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, kicking off the first orbital test flight of NASA's Commercial Crew program.

Ever since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, the US has been hitching rides to and from the space station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, created to carry astronauts, rocketed into the sky early Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, bound for the International Space Station.

The demonstration mission, called Demo-1, is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a USA commercial company through a public-private partnership.

CNN noted that the successful docking procedure was a first for SpaceX, which has already run Dragon 1 capsule cargo missions to the ISS but previously relied on the station's robotic arm to grab that craft and manually drag it to the docking port.

SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule Approach
Source NASA via YouTube

During its five-day stay, United States astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon's cabin. SpaceX's new crew capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, acing its second milestone in just over a day.

Following the retirement of American shuttles, NASA paid companies such as SpaceX and Boeing about $8 billion to build and operate crew capsules to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

The dummy pilot is a mannequin nicknamed "Ripley" after Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien films.

That said, the Crew Dragon is also created to be an enjoyable ride.

The only way astronauts can get to space are via Russian rockets, yet the cost of using them has steeply risen over the years.

"We're going to have more access to space at a better cost than at any point in human history", said Bridenstine, adding he was "100 per cent confident" that a manned flight would happen by the year's end. Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems.

"SpaceX and NASA teams are working side-by-side on this mission from start to finish as we have throughout this process". Within hours, the capsule's hatch swung open and the three astronauts floated inside to remove supplies and take air samples, wearing oxygen masks and hoods until they got the all-clear. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat. If all goes well, Boeing would then have a launch-pad abort test no earlier than May and a crewed flight test no earlier than August.

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