SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule Ends First Test Mission With Successful Ocean Splash

Elon Musk's SpaceX 'Crew Dragon' makes successful landing

SpaceX's new commercial astronaut capsule, the Crew Dragon, has completed its first test flight, falling into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday morning. "I'm still shaking."NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine hailed the splashdown, saying it "marked another milestone in a new era of human spaceflight".

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co a total of $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil, something not possible since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric auto maker Tesla Inc. "We invested in the @Commercial_Crew program to strengthen the USA space program for the long haul, and it's great to see that happening", he tweeted.

SpaceX launched a plush Earth doll aboard its Crew Dragon spaceship in March 2019.

After a six-day mission to the International Space Station, Crew Dragon detached at about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) and sped back to earth, reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) splash-down about 200 miles (320 km) off the Florida coast.

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

Ripley dummy astronaut in the Crew Dragon during descent
The Premieres of SpaceX's Crew Dragon First Flight into Space

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who will be on board the same Crew Dragon later this year, for the first ever operational mission to the space station, said Demo-1 in itself was a premiere.

Even though the capsule came back to Earth looking like a "toasted marshmallow" - in the words of SpaceX engineer Kate Tice - the heat shield held.

"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", he said.

Separately, Boeing is scheduled to carry out an unmanned demo mission in April of its Starliner capsule.

Capsules have no wings and fall to Earth, their descent slowed only by parachutes - much like the Russian Soyuz craft, which lands in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Shuttles took American astronauts to space from 1981 to 2011, but their cost proved prohibitive, while two of the original four craft had catastrophic accidents, killing 14 crew members.

Considering everything has gone according to plan so far, the odds that NASA will green-light SpaceX to carry two of its astronauts to the ISS are getting higher with each milestone.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Nvidia close to Mellanox deal
Nvidia has confirmed that its bid for Mellanox, which stands at $6.9 billion, has been accepted, leaving Intel in the cold. The latter company made over US$1 billion in revenue in 2018, with US$290 million of that coming in the fourth quarter.

AJ Styles Talks Memorable WWE Moments, The Shield Playlist, Becky Lynch/Charlotte
The Miz got an incredible ovation on his return to his Cleveland, and with his dad sitting front-row he was the hometown hero. Big E and Xavier Woods will also be on the pre-show to take on the newly-formed team of Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura.

Misery grows for Venezuelans hit by power cuts
Hospitals with back-up generators were using them for emergency services, leaving patients to cope in the dark. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the deaths or whether they could have resulted from the blackout.

Two in Custody for Murder of Girl Found in Duffel Bag
Officials did not release the identity of the detainees but did say more information would be released later this week. Sketches of Trinity were released after her body was found on Tuesday last week in the hopes of identifying her.

Captain Marvel Weekend Numbers Surpass $455 Million
The film is written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, with Geneva Robertson-Dworet also contributing to the screenplay. Set in the 1990s, " Captain Marvel " follows Danvers' journey as she becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes.

Other news