SpaceX's Crew Dragon module has splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean

by Fredrick Graves March 9, 2019, 0:43
SpaceX's Crew Dragon module has splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space capsule will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In 2014, Nasa awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing a combined $6.8bn to build competing spacecraft to carry astronauts into orbit from the United States.

There were no people on board the spacecraft, built to carry four Nasa astronauts to the International Space Station.

In addition to bringing Ripley safely back to Earth, Crew Dragon is tasked with returning some 350 pounds of gear and scientific experiments. Crew Dragon remained attached to the space station from Sunday, allowing SpaceX engineers more time to test a variety of systems and components.

She added that she and the rest of the panel were pleased that NASA was taking steps, such as buying two additional Soyuz seats from Roscosmos, to alleviate any perceived schedule pressure on the commercial crew program.

Falcon 9 launched Saturday before dawn with the Crew Dragon capsule, created to carry up to seven astronauts, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39A. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised Crew Dragon's mission.

ISS Crew Member Earth Continues Work Aboard the Station 1
Earth making sure she is on schedule | Image credit NASA Anne McClain

SpaceX's swanky new crew capsule has undocked from the International Space Station and is headed toward an old-fashioned splashdown.

The nearly-week long journey culminated when the spacecraft disembarked from the station about 2.30am Friday, fired its engine to slow down, and barrelled through the thickening atmosphere on its fiery return to Earth.

- 8:45 a.m. ET: Splashdown in the Atlantic, some 200 miles off the Florida coast. The mannequin, named Ripley, was equipped with sensors to help better understand what astronauts will experience when they launch on the capsule. SpaceX - which has been delivering station cargo for years - is shooting for summer. Soon, if all goes as planned, SpaceX and Boeing will compete for those contracts and launch the manned-missions from US soil.

While the space world was busy congratulating SpaceX and Nasa last Saturday, Roskomos tweeted only the following day, praising the U.S. space agency (not SpaceX) but insisting the "safety of flights should be irreproachable", a pointed reference to technical objections Russians had raised on Dragon's approach procedure towards the ISS. The Demo-2 flight vehicle that will carry humans to space is still under construction by SpaceX. Historic aerospace company Boeing are also readying to fly to the ISS with their own capsule, dubbed "Starliner", in the coming months. "That [shape] could potentially cause a roll instability on reentry", Musk said. I think it's unlikely; we've run simulations a thousand times.

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. NASA crew must train with the Russian crew for a period of time before launching under the agreement.

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