Early Saturday morning, SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched in the first test to the ISS on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was successful, and it was later followed by a perfect docking. On board, it had supplies for the three astronauts in orbit and a dummy named Ripley.
Once docked, the three astronauts followed the procedure and equipped breathing aids in case the atmosphere in the capsule wasn’t right. They also took readings from the Crew Dragon interior before opening the hatch. The entire moment was streamed live from both the inside of the Crew Dragon and the outside, showing the astronauts entering the capsule, performing more readings and collecting the supplies.
The capsule will undock on Friday and return to Earth, with a landing into the Atlantic Ocean.
The last part of the test is the return, which should go smoothly so that SpaceX can carry on with the second test in July when it will fly two NASA astronauts to the ISS.
The moment will be a record since, in the past decade, no other human launches have been made from the US soil. One of the three astronauts that will go to the ISS on board of the Dragon Crew, Bob Behnken, said on NASA TV:
“It was just super-exciting to see it. Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here.”
Last week, NASA reviewed the Crew Dragon before launch and estimated that if this test goes well, the crewed flights will begin within a few months. By the looks of how things went so far, the schedule is intact.
SpaceX has flown the Dragon Cargo spacecraft many times starting in 2012, and in 2014 it won the $2.6 billion contract to begin the Crew Dragon, which was hoped to start sending astronauts in 2016. The development hasn’t been flawless, so it was delayed multiple times.
Meanwhile, Boeing will also run the test for its CST-100 Starliner capsule that will be sent to the ISS just like the Crew Dragon was sent this past weekend.
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