SpaceX Crew Dragon Set For Splashdown In Atlantic Ocean

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The capsule launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday morning, successfully docked and detached from the International Space Station before comign back to earth. The flight, called Demo-1, was launched on March 2nd and spent five days at the International Space Station (ISS).

The re-entry is one of the biggest tests of the Dragon and of SpaceX, the company founded by Musk in 2002 with the ultimate goal of flying humans to Earth's orbit and beyond. The final burn lasted about 15 minutes and helped the vehicle safely slice back through the Earth's thick atmosphere while still traveling thousands of miles per hour.

Even though the capsule came back to Earth looking like a "toasted marshmallow" - in the words of SpaceX engineer Kate Tice - the heat shield held. A plume of four large, additional parachutes slowed the capsule's drift through the air and it splash down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 am ET. The Crew Dragon is equipped with eight escape engines in case of an emergency. It was carrying about 400 pounds of supplies for the ISS and a space-suited dummy named Ripley, which is "fitted with sensors around the head, neck and spine to record everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission". The yells then turned into roars of cheering applause after Crew Dragon finally hit the water safely and well within sight of its recovery boats off the Florida coast. Demo-2 will be the first crewed test flight aboard the Crew Dragon. That completes its short mission to the ISS that put the module created to carry humans to space to test for the first time.

Because of the schedule uncertainties, NASA has been talking with the Russians about buying more rides aboard Soyuz spacecraft, at a price that could amount to $80 million or more per seat. The procedure went smoothly and as of 12:39 p.m. PT, Ripley - SpaceX's astronaut dummy - has been locked away in the Crew Dragon ready to deploy.

Despite the distractions, Friday's landing appeared to be another triumph for SpaceX, and validation of years of work.

Russian Federation has been critical of SpaceX and Elon Musk before, and it's no secret that some of the biggest names in Russia's space science scene aren't super fond of the company or its boss.

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Data from the spacecraft's descent on Friday will be key. "It won't be long before our astronaut colleagues are aboard Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner vehicles, and we can't wait". Dragon Crew is making history for all sorts of reasons.

Boeing is scheduled to fly its first uncrewed mission to the station by next month at the earliest, though that date is likely to slip, officials have said.

During a video interview with reporters beamed to Earth on Thursday, Saint-Jacques said it looked "like a business class spacecraft".

"We want to take a moment to recognize this milestone accomplishment that marks the inaugural mission of the commercial crew program", she said.

One problem that could occur is a failure of the Dragon's carrier rocket during the ascent to orbit. Celestial Buddies, a Connecticut-based toy company that makes the toy had received no prior notice of the product's inclusion in the DM-1 mission.