Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic Ending First Commercial Crew Mission

SpaceX's Dragon capsule carrying a test dummy splashes down into the Atlantic ocean off the Florida coast

SpaceX's Dragon capsule carrying a test dummy splashes down into the Atlantic ocean off the Florida coast

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely in the Atlantic Friday after undocking from the International Space Station, appearing to successfully complete the first mission of the vehicle the company created to fly humans. Now, SpaceX and Crew Dragon have demonstrated their ability to safely shepherd astronauts back to Earth.

For this mission, the capsule was loaded with 450 pounds of cargo and a spacesuit-clad test dummy named "Ripley" after Ellen Ripley, the fictional character played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1979 film "Alien". "Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed!" the SpaceX Twitter account tweeted. Once there, the capsule will undergo processing at Kennedy Space Center for another important test, an in-flight abort mission to ensure that the spacecraft can quickly push itself away from the rocket in case of an emergency. 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.

The almost week-long journey culminated when the spacecraft disembarked from the station about 2:30 a.m. Friday, fired its engine to slow down, and barreled through the thickening atmosphere on its fiery return to Earth until finally splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m.

The Atlantic Ocean landing is the first in almost 50 years for a capsule that was designed for humans, NASA says.

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Dragon splashed into the Atlantic Ocean exactly on time, at 08:45 EST (13:45 UTC).

The Demo-1 mission now complete, SpaceX and NASA will carefully analyse the capsule to assess its performance, particularly to see how it may have been affected by the launch and re-entry. SpaceX - which has been delivering station cargo for years - is shooting for summer.

"This is an wonderful achievement in American history", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine Friday.

"This really is an American achievement that spans many generations of NASA administrators and over a decade of work by the NASA team", current Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the splash-down.

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Long-range cameras have also been loaded onto the recovery ship.

The demonstration capsule's lift-off last Saturday was picture flawless, but some kind of booster anomaly can never be discounted. NASA hoped their spacecrafts would start flying in 2017. The capsule had brown scorch marks from top to bottom, but otherwise looked fine. He found it "very slick" and called it business class. The dummy is part of the test to make sure the capsule is suitable for humans during space travel. The Starliner is created to touch down on land.

Scheduled for July, SpaceX mission Demo-2 plans to carry the company's first two NASA astronauts.

NASA awarded the first contracts in 2014 to SpaceX and Boeing, now totalling about $8 billion.

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Over the course of the last week, SpaceX took a giant leap toward launching humans from Cape Canaveral for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. SpaceX and NASA can use the mission data to determine if the capsule module is ready for human trials. It successfully linked up with the space station the next day. It will be carrying a payload of 140kgs to be brought back. The AP is exclusively responsible for all content.

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