SpaceX docking: Crew Dragon capsule docks TODAY

SpaceX docking: Crew Dragon capsule docks TODAY

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.

The unmanned test flight is meant to demonstrate SpaceX's ability to safely and reliably carry astronauts to and from the ISS.

Crew Dragon next fired its thrusters to begin an approach initiation burn, which brought it inside the approach ellipsoid, a 4-by-2-kilometer egg-shaped zone surrounding the station.

After soft capture, Dragon's docking hardware automatically sealed itself with the station, completing a hard docking.

MARTIN: Bridenstine says the entire mission so far has been a success, from the launch to the docking at the International Space Station.

SpaceX celebrated the successful launch of its Crew Dragon capsule followed by the successful autonomous docking of the spacecraft at the International Space Station on the weekend as aprelude to the resumption of manned USA space flights, possibly in the next year.

The Crew Dragon is created to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8. Docking occurred at 05:51 EST (10:51 UTC), and the crew officially opened Dragon's interior hatch at 08:07 EST (13:07 UTC).

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This photo provided by SpaceX shows a test dummy in the new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts.

"It's been a long eight years", the Kennedy Space Centre's director Bob Cabana, a former astronaut himself, said as SpaceX employees milled around the rocket. Now Russian rockets are the only way to get astronauts to the 250-mile-high outpost. NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

Like Ripley, the capsule is rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses, and to monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems throughout the flight.

SpaceX is looking to start flights from as early as July this year. After remaining in this position for approximately 10 minutes, Dragon will be cleared to proceed to 20 meters for another brief hold, followed by docking to the ISS. In the meantime, NASA is paying two companies - SpaceX and Boeing - to build and operate America's next generation of rocket ships.

"This is a good day - first day of a new era for the next generation of space explorer", Saint-Jacques said during a live broadcast of the welcoming ceremony.

NASA says that Boeing's CST-100 Starliner continues to undergo testing in preparation for its Orbital Flight Test, slated for no earlier than April.

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