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SpaceX Crew Dragon, built to carry humans, returns home from space station

SpaceX Crew Dragon, built to carry humans, returns home from space station”

The Crew Dragon capsule is heading back to Earth after spending a week docked at the ISS.

"I'd say hypersonic re-entry is probably my biggest concern", Elon Musk, the founder and head of SpaceX, said last Saturday following the capsule's launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

The flight is a milestone for Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as they attempt to end US dependence on Russian Federation for astronaut shuttles to the space station. It's aiming for a morning splashdown in the Atlantic off Florida's coast, the final hurdle of the six-day test flight.

But like the launch, the docking went off without a hitch, and soon the three astronauts on board the station - Nasa's Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federation, and Canada's David Saint-Jacques - were able to check out the first commercial space vehicle designed for human space flight ever to dock with the station. Apollo 9 - which orbited Earth in preparation for the moon landings - splashed down near the Bahamas on March 13, 1969. NASA is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts this year.

While Dragon's crew member was a dummy named Ripley this time, the mission sets the stage for a manned flight, which will see two United States astronauts - one of them Behnken - book a return trip to the ISS sometime before the end of the year, according to Nasa.

The US's new commercial astronaut capsule has completed its demonstration flight with a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. The educational stuffed toy will remain on the space station while it's ride returns to Earth.

It's a wrap: SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean and concluded one of the most important missions to the International Space Station (ISS). It docked to the ISS without a hitch last Sunday. The landing, at 8:45am ET, came right on schedule as did pretty much every milestone during the Crew Dragon's first mission, a test before humans fly aboard the vehicle. SpaceX, which launched the first Falcon 9 rockets just as the Commercial Crew Program began, is on-target to launch human passengers in just a few months. Following the shuttle program's end, NASA put its faith in the commercial sector, entrusting two companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to build its future space taxis. While improvements still need to be made, the company aims to fly NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the next test flight.

"There's a lot of forward work to complete" on both Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner vehicles, said Sandy Magnus, a former astronaut who serves on the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, during a March 7 meeting of the panel at KSC. The Starliner is created to touch down on land.

During a video interview with reporters beamed to Earth on Thursday, Saint-Jacques said it looked "like a business class spacecraft".

SpaceX's recovery ship headed out to pull the Dragon onto its "nest" and bring it back to shore for inspection.



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