SpaceX crew capsule departs station for Atlantic splashdown

Rodiano Bonacci
Marzo 8, 2019

While even a flawless DM-1 will still leave a significant amount of work remaining before NASA is likely to permit SpaceX to conduct DM-2, its first launch with NASA astronauts, it's safe to say that Crew Dragon's hiccup-free orbital debut will act as a salve for a wide range of internal and external skepticism.

In this photo, "little Earth" gawks at its home planet while looking out the Cupola window at the International Space Station.

Crew Dragon docked at the ISS on Sunday, 27 hours after blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Saturday. At 2:31 am EST (07:31 UTC) on March 8th, the spacecraft will undock from the International Space Station (ISS) and begin a series of Draco thruster burns to dip one end of its orbit just inside Earth's atmosphere.

Officials at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration will scrutinize the performance of the SpaceX capsule's parachute deployment and its buoyancy after splash-down - two of the design and functionality concerns first reported by Reuters in February.

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

The Dragon capsule pulled away from the orbiting lab early Friday, a test dummy named Ripley its lone occupant.

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.

No human spaceflight has launched from America since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, and Nasa has relied on Russian Soyuz modules to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS in the intervening years.

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.

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