SpaceX's Crew Dragon Splashed Down Back On Earth, Safely Completing Its Mission

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Splashed Down Back On Earth, Safely Completing Its Mission

We have splashdown! The Crew Dragon undocked from the space station at 2:32am EST this morning and started the journey back to Earth.

The capsule will de-orbit and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m.

When SpaceXlaunched its first Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station last week, the gleaming white vehicle soared into space on its maiden voyage.

After hours of suspense, the Crew Dragon touched down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8.45am some 370km off the coast of the USA state of Florida.

It was the first time in 50 years that a capsule designed for astronauts returned from space by plopping into the Atlantic.

Indeed it is. Only NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have ever delivered astronauts to the space station.

Crew Dragon's return to Earth began yesterday, after astronauts finished packing it with about 150 kilograms of return cargo; some of that includes some cold storage samples, NASA said prior to launch.

If all goes according to plan, the Crew Dragon will splash-down in the Atlantic Ocean using four parachutes. However, Crew Dragon is carrying one lifeless - but lifelike - passenger, a dummy outfitted with a variety of sensors so scientists can measure the forces exerted on the body during the mission.

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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.

If deemed a complete success, the mission would give Nasa increased confidence in one of its prime contractors and propel the space agency a step closer to restoring human spaceflight from United States soil. The dummy is part of the test to make sure the capsule is suitable for humans during space travel. It was a test and familiarization flight for the Crew Dragon.

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. Like most complex space projects, the Commercial Crew Program has experienced its fair share of delays. This first SpaceX test flight opens a new era, Bridenstine said, with new technology and new business approaches.

When fully operational, the craft is expected to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. It successfully linked up with the space station the next day.

Despite Musk's concerns, Crew Dragon aced its fiery descent through the atmosphere and looked in excellent condition as crews prepared to haul it out of the water today.

Station commander Oleg Kononenko, flight engineer Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques quickly inspected the craft, set up ventilation ducts and unloaded about 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment. He found the capsule "very slick" and called it business class.

That possibility never became reality - at least not this time - partly because Musk wasn't being hyperbolic about those thousand simulations, which SpaceX and NASA exhaustively conducted via computer models.

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