Steps taken towards putting American astronauts into space again

04 March, 2019, 04:57 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • LIFT OFF California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is docked to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft attached to ISS via "soft capture" at 5:51 a.m.

A SpaceX rocket with a newly designed unmanned crew capsule has successfully blasted off from a launch pad in the USA state of Florida bound for the International Space Station.

The new capsule blasted off aboard the Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX - run by billionaire Elon Musk -49 am (0749 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, lighting up the coastline.

"From liftoff to splashdown, essentially she's going to tell us how she feels during the whole mission", a SpaceX senior dynamics engineer says in an informational video.

This is the first time for the use a commercial spacecraft for its manned space mission. Teams in the space station mission center at Johnson will monitor station crew members' opening of the spacecraft hatch, entering Crew Dragon and unpacking the capsule.

The Dragon carried 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment - slightly more than the weight of two astronauts - to the station.

NASA's agreement with the Russian space program Roscomos is rapidly coming to an end, and without a new agreement in place or crew-capable spacecrafts of its own, NASA astronauts would have no presence aboard the orbiting laboratory. It follows an eight-year lapse from the last flight of the Space Shuttle during which America has bought seats on Russian Soyuz rockets for crew trips to the station. "We have to dock to the station".

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Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of build and flight reliability, said during a Thursday press conference that Ripley will "measure forces, acceleration and the environment itself". Though no astronauts were aboard this first demonstration flight, the successful launch is critical in persuading any doubters and paves the way for SpaceX to launch with astronauts as soon as this summer.

While SpaceX has sent plenty of cargo Dragons to the space station, a Crew Dragon is a different beast.

"There is nothing more important for us than this endeavour, and we really appreciate the opportunity from Nasa to do this". Musk also confirmed that Dragon's solar panels and electrical systems were operating nominally. But if SpaceX's most recent test goes according to plan, that may soon change.

Following a successful pad abort test in 2015, the objective of Demo-1 is to demonstrate nominal end-to-end performance of Crew Dragon and its launcher, Falcon 9.

In 2014, the USA space agency awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for them to take over this task.

Next up, though, should be Boeing, NASA's other commercial crew provider.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon can now check another milestone off its list.

As NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine pointed out on Saturday, the SpaceX test represents a "new era" for American space travel.



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