SpaceX’s Crew Dragon completes successful landing and recoveryPeter Brown | March 11, 2019
SpaceX completed its test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft with a successful re-entry and recovery of the capsule after it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.
The re-entry and recovery was the final step in the Demonstration Mission-1, an uncrewed flight test designed to demonstrate the capability of the Crew Dragon that will carry astronauts to orbit the International Space Station (ISS). More importantly, it will allow the U.S. to send astronauts to space from U.S. soil for the first time since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.
The Crew Dragon capsule launched and docked with the ISS a few days prior to re-entry carrying only a test dummy named Ripley. After the Crew Dragon docked with the ISS, the astronauts onboard the station entered the capsule for a tour.
The six-day mission accomplished a number of firsts in the test flight including being the first commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the ISS; the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to dock with the space station; the first autonomous docking of a U.S. spacecraft to the ISS; and the first use of adapters that connect the ISS and Crew Dragon and that will be used for NASA’s Orion spacecraft for future missions to the Moon.
The test flight dummy was equipped with sensors to monitor data about the potential effects on humans traveling in the Crew Dragon. SpaceX will process the data and teams will begin outfitting the capsule for its next mission.
That next mission will take place in July of this year, called Demonstration Mission 2, which will be the first crewed flight test carrying two NASA astronauts to certify the spacecraft for routine operational missions.
NASA is also set to test Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, a second aircraft that will also carry astronauts to space and the ISS, in April in an unmanned test. A crewed flight in the Starliner is set to take place in August for certification that it can be used for routine missions.