Completing a five-day mission at the International Space Station (ISS), American spacecraft Crew Dragon touched the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's eastern shore on Friday. This was the first time in fifty years that an astronaut capsule landed in the Atlantic Ocean and SpaceX's first orbital test mission.
Nasa astronauts have been using Russian rockets since space shuttles retired eight years ago AND is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts this year. Demo-2 will be the first crewed test flight aboard the Crew Dragon. According to NASA's Launch Schedule, the Crew Dragon's crewed mission, which will bring Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS, is expected to take place sometime in July.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's Roskosmos space agency, praised both Musk and NASA on the successful mission on Twitter. NASA and SpaceX signed a $2.6 billion contract in September 2014 on completing the development of the Dragon v2 and certifying it for flights to the ISS. Boeing is up next to test its Starliner capsule.
What made the reentry so flawless was that SpaceX gave a time of 8:45 a.m. EST as an estimate for when the vehicle would be back on the surface.
Launched last Saturday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon spacecraft executed a flawless rendezvous with the International Space Station, catching up with the outpost early Sunday and, after a series of tests, gliding in for a smooth automated docking at the lab's forward port. Despite being similar to the smooth, cone-shaped Dragon cargo spacecraft, the Crew Dragon version is asymmetrical, which could make it trickier to navigate through the atmosphere while temperatures flair to thousands of degrees Farhenheit. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon will be put to work ferrying up to seven astronauts at a time back and forth to the ISS.
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It launched the Commercial Crew Program in 2010 to support USA companies in the development of new spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from space.
Dragon's owner, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk, had previously expressed some anxiety about how the capsule would cope with re-entry, given that the vehicle's backshell, or heatshield, has a somewhat irregular shape that could lead to a roll instability at hypersonic speeds. But this test flight's success, along with its data, should allow SpaceX and NASA to close out those systems in the coming months. Called Demo-2, that flight will be a 14 day mission to the ISS.
The last generation of U.S. spacecraft, the Space shuttles, landed like airplanes. To date, all Dragon cargo craft have instead berthed with the ISS-slowly approaching the space station and waiting for a crew member to grab the ship with a robotic arm.
The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule Sunday morning, with USA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections.