SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashes down in Atlantic Ocean

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashes down in Atlantic Ocean

Kenneth Drake
March 9, 2019

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on Friday returned home from its historic six-day test flight.

This week's flight wasn't the first time that a SpaceX spacecraft has visited the ISS, but it is the first time that one of its capsules docked itself with the orbital outpost.

The Crew Dragon made history last week when SpaceX launched the first spacecraft under NASA's commercial crew program. Now it's clear that SpaceX is comfortably in the lead, and NASA expects manned missions using Crew Dragon to commence sooner rather than later.

First autonomous docking of a US spacecraft to the International Space Station.

What now: Recovery crews are in place and Crew Dragon will be loaded onto the recovery ship.

Ever since the Shuttle Program ended in 2011, NASA has been working with commercial partners to provide transportation to and from the ISS.

The Crew Dragon never loses its built-in escape rockets, which eliminates that danger and simplifies the system overall.

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Musk's tweet was his reaction an article, published by the Ars Technica technology news outlet, about Russia's reaction to the recent launch of SpaceX-manufactured Crew Dragon vehicle and its docking to the International Space Station (ISS).

Plush toy fans will be delighted to learn that the cuddly planet Earth that hitched a ride into orbit aboard the spacecraft will remain on the outpost, keeping 'nauts company during their long missions. 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. Provided it goes well, the first crewed mission of SpaceX's capsule will occur in July, featuring astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

For now, SpaceX wins the day - and continue to forge a path between the United States and the International Space Station. SpaceX sent a very special crew member aboard its first test flight, a mannequin named Ripley.

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively. Soon, if all goes as planned, SpaceX and Boeing will compete for those contracts and launch the manned-missions from USA soil. That didn't happen, and the company proved the Crew Dragon is ready for the next step. I think it's unlikely; we've run simulations a thousand times.

Whenever one or both spacecraft begin operational flights to the station, possibly by the end of the year, NASA will finally be able to end its sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit at a cost of more than $80 million a seat.

Next up is the first crewed flight for the Crew Dragon.

The forces exerted on the capsule as it blazed a trail through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds had SpaceX CEO Elon Musk concerned during the week. Following Saturday's launch, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said that he was "100 percent confident" crew would launch this year.