Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

SpaceX crew capsule splashes down in Atlantic

ISS crew member and plush toy Earth continues work aboard the station Earth hitting the treadmill with NASA astronaut Anne Mc Clain | Image credit NASA Anne McClain
Sandra Phillips | 08 March, 2019, 16:23

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule began its journey back to Earth on Friday (March 8) following a successful undocking from the International Space Station (ISS). Crew Dragon is now whirling through orbit and is scheduled to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 am ET after spending six days in space for the uncrewed demonstration mission.

Musk's tweet was his reaction an article, published by the Ars Technica technology news outlet, about Russia's reaction to the recent launch of SpaceX-manufactured Crew Dragon vehicle and its docking to the International Space Station (ISS).

Last Sunday, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques was the first to enter the Dragon when it arrived and the last to leave.

Should that mission go well, the next flight of the Crew Dragon will include humans.

Where to watch: NASA will stream the undocking and landing at NASA.gov beginning at 2 a.m.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station March 3, 2019. The capsule is headed toward splash down in the Atlantic Ocean with a test dummy named Ripley its lone occupant.

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

"We wish this new asset to human spaceflight fair winds and following seas as it returns to Earth for its splashdown in the Atlantic", Mission Control said. "We want to make sure that everything is ideal".

Now, SpaceX and Crew Dragon must demonstrate their ability to safely shepherd astronauts back to Earth.

Since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has been unable to fly its astronauts.

The unmanned capsule's voyage marks a key milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from USA soil later this year.

With the landing, Crew Dragon's six-day long mission is complete but there's still work to do.

About 300 pounds of cargo, including unneeded hardware and scientific samples, were packed aboard the Dragon for the return trip. I think it's unlikely; we've run simulations a thousand times. It's slated to fly its first uncrewed demo mission no earlier than April. Success will also mean that "Earthy", a plush anthropomorphic doll of our planet, will be coming home from the space station. For example, some tweaks may need to be made to the thruster system, and the parachute system still has to be fully certified for crewed flights. Provided it goes well, the first crewed mission of SpaceX's capsule will occur in July, featuring astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

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