SpaceX's Crew Dragon Splashes Down Following Successful Test Flight

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The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule last Sunday, with USA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections. Capsules have no wings and fall to the earth, their descent slowed only by parachutes - much like the Russian Soyuz craft, which lands in the steppes of Kazakhstan.The last generation of USA spacecraft, the Space Shuttles, landed like airplanes.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has undocked from the International Space Station.

After a six-day mission to the International Space Station, Crew Dragon detached at about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) and sped back to earth, reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) splash-down about 200 miles (320 km) off the Florida coast.

SpaceX is entrepreneur Elon Musk's company. "It's not just for our own astronauts from NASA, but it's also going to carry up crew members from Canada, Europe, Japan and even Russian Federation". The spacesuit-clad figure was fitted with a suite of sensors around its head, neck, and spine, to monitor how a human would fare on the flight. Upon entering the Earth's atmospheres, it deployed a set of four parachutes to help slow down its rapid pace.

Falcon 9 returns to Earth after launching the Crew Dragon
Falcon 9 returns to Earth after launching the Crew Dragon

"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California.

The capsule, which was lifted out of the water by a boat using a crane, is due back on land by Sunday. This time around the mission will test the inflight-abort system that will save the crew should the rocket carrying the capsule experience a significant glitch.

The same Crew Dragon spacecraft will be used for a second test flight as early as April. Shuttles took American astronauts to space from 1981 to 2011, but their cost proved prohibitive, while two of the original four craft had catastrophic accidents, killing 14 crew members.After the program was retired, the United States government, under then president Barack Obama, turned toward SpaceX and Boeing to develop a new way to ferry its crews, paying the firms for their transport services.Due to about three years of development delays, the switch has come to fruition under Trump. Contracted missions for NASA, each of which will carry four astronauts, will follow sometime after that.

First commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station.

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