SpaceX's Dragon Crew Successfully Splashes Down

SpaceX's Dragon Crew Successfully Splashes Down

SpaceX's Dragon Crew Successfully Splashes Down

Crew Dragon departs ISS Crew Dragon backs away from the International Space Station during its Demo-1 mission, following undocking on 8 March at 02:32 EST.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule unlatched from the International Space Station early Friday and returned home from its historic six-day test flight. "Last one was Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969", NASA tweeted.

Due to the scuttling of the NASA Space Shuttle Program in 2011, only Russian rockets are in use. There are a lot of factors that can affect the actual time of touchdown, but Crew Dragon splashed down at exactly 8:45 a.m., and SpaceX made it all look pretty easy.

Later today, the last and the most hard stage of the mission, the actual return back to Earth will take place. Nasa's Commercial Crew programme is also relying on a separate Boeing spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, which continues preparatory work for an unpiloted trip to the space station slated for no earlier than April. NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has stressed that they don't want NASA to be in a position where their lack of access to the ISS is driving their evaluation of whether SpaceX and Boeing are fit to safely fly astronauts. Boeing is set to test their crewed vehicle in Spring this year. Television views from a NASA WB-70 research jet and nearby recovery ships showed the spacecraft blazing through the sky and then descending to a gentle splashdown about 265 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral at 8:45 a.m.

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

For this mission, the capsule was loaded with 450 pounds of cargo and a spacesuit-clad test dummy named "Ripley" after Ellen Ripley, the fictional character played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1979 film "Alien". Recovery boats were waiting to hoist the capsule with cranes onto the "Go Searcher" recovery ship.

Although created to carry up to seven passengers, none will be inside Crew Dragon when it attempts re-entry this afternoon.

Once the spacecraft is safely home, an huge amount of work will commence to analyze all the data gathered during this test flight. This unmanned test flight ferried supplies to the station.

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Steve Stich, the crew program's deputy manager with NASA, said the vehicle was doing well after the splash-down.

After SpaceX processes data from this mission, teams will begin refurbishing Crew Dragon for its next mission, an in-flight abort test targeted to take place this summer.

SpaceX is yet to send a human to space.

"It won't be long before our astronaut colleagues are aboard Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner vehicles, and we can't wait", United States astronaut Anne McClain said on behalf of the ISS crew after the capsule left the ISS.

Crew Dragon also aced a key NASA review ahead of launch, and the space agency hasn't reported any issues with the mission thus far.

Unlike the first Dragon freighter, the Crew Dragon will not be hung up like a trophy at SpaceX HQ.

The splashdown was the final test on this mission for Crew Dragon, during a flight test for a capsule that could become the first USA craft to carry astronauts into space since the shuttle program was phased out in 2011.

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