SpaceX Crew Spacecraft Lands Safely After Space Station Mission

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- 8:45 a.m. ET: Splashdown in the Atlantic, some 200 miles off the Florida coast.

Completing the test mission on Friday brought SpaceX's Crew Dragon one step closer to flying humans - and ending the United States' years-long reliance on Russian Federation to fly astronauts to and from the ISS. This was the first time in fifty years that an astronaut capsule landed in the Atlantic Ocean and SpaceX's first orbital test mission.

While docked at the ISS, humans entered the vehicle for the first time ever, in space. The last such incident: the Apollo 9 splashdown on March 13, 1969.

NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to design and build crew-carrying spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the space station - replacements for the Space Shuttle, which NASA retired in 2011. Following this initial mission, the Crew Dragon might be ready to take astronauts to space in a couple of months. But now, SpaceX has taken a major leap forward and is poised to fly its first test mission with two Nasa astronauts on board later this year.

The US's new commercial astronaut capsule has completed its demonstration flight with a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

"I don't think we saw really anything in the mission so far - we've got to do the data reviews - that would preclude us from having a crewed mission later this year", Stich said.

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"Our Commercial Crew Program is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil". "It won't be long before our astronaut colleagues are aboard Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner vehicles, and we can't wait".

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 Crew Dragon capsule was launched on March 2nd from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida and spent five days at the ISS. The live stream showed the capsule's protective shell had been weathered from intense heat during the atmospheric re-entry.

Assuming a detailed post-flight inspection and data analysis confirm the capsule's apparently problem-free performance, NASA will be a major step closer to launching two astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule this summer, the first flight of a US crew from American soil since the shuttle made its final flight in 2011. He found it "very slick" and called it business class.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co. Instead, it carried a sensor-laden test dummy named Ripley - named for Sigourney Weaver's character in the Aliens films. But if all goes well, the next flight will see two U.S. astronauts book a return trip to the ISS, sometime before the end of the year, according to NASA.

Little Earth and the new supplies stayed on the space station, while Ripley and about 300 pounds of return cargo, including a broken spacesuit part, headed back home on Crew Dragon.