SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashes down into the Atlantic marking first success

Olive Hawkins
March 11, 2019

Elon Musk's SpaceX and NASA have confirmed that the launch of "Crew Dragon" has been successful with the spacecraft safely landing back on Earth.

NASA resumed talks with Russia's space agency Roscosmos in February seeking two additional Soyuz seats for 2020 to maintain a US presence on the space station.

No people flew on board to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's new commercial astronaut capsule, the Crew Dragon, has completed its first test flight, falling into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday morning.

The crew capsule did not have any humans aboard, just a test dummy named Ripley, a reference to the lead character in the "Alien" movies.

First commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station. The Dragon linked with the station autonomously, being the first American spacecraft ever to do so in this manner.

The Crew Dragon left the station and successfully returned to the Earth on Friday. "It was handsome", said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.

Ripley dummy astronaut in the Crew Dragon during descent

The U.S. relies on Russian Federation to launch astronauts to the space station, at a cost of about $80 million per ticket.

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. Ripley was riddled with sensors to monitor how flight in the capsule would feel for humans.

Next in line is a test that will take place in June and will target Crew Dragon's emergency escape system.

The goal of this mission was to test that the capsule's in-flight systems would perform as intended and if it could dock with the ISS by itself, among other things, all of which would ensure that the capsule would be capable of carrying a human crew in the near future. In the coming months, SpaceX and NASA will analyze data gathered during the flight to prepare Crew Dragon for its first human passengers: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

"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" NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins has said.

The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule last Sunday, with US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections.

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