SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes into Atlantic, completing test flight's return leg

SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes into Atlantic, completing test flight's return leg

SpaceX's Crew Dragon craft successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on March 8 following a test flight to the International Space Station.

It marks the first time in 50 years that a capsule designed for astronauts returned from space by plopping into the Atlantic.

Since the government agency responsible for spaceflight shut down its space shuttle program eight years ago, NASA has paid Russian Federation to fly its astronauts to space.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon has been retrieved by the "Go Searcher" recovery ship after splashing into the Atlantic Ocean Friday morning.

"I'm kind of shaky and I'm super excited", said Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management.

NASA resumed talks with Russia's space agency Roscosmos in February seeking two additional Soyuz seats for 2020 to maintain a United States presence on the space station. Since 2011, NASA had been using Russian Soyuz missions to transport astronauts back and forth to the ISS, at the cost of approximately $80m per astronaut. The Dragon capsule pulled away from the orbiting lab early Friday, a test dummy named Ripley its lone occupant. Television views from a NASA WB-70 research jet and nearby recovery ships showed the spacecraft blazing through the sky and then descending to a gentle splashdown about 265 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral at 8:45 a.m. Six hours later, the capsule carrying a test dummy parachuted into the ocean, a couple hundred miles off the Florida coast.

"At 2:32 a.m. EST [07:32 GMT], Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station to begin the final phase of its uncrewed Demo-1 flight test".

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

Crew Dragon's departure burns quickly moved it outside the station's imaginary 200-meter-wide Keep Out Sphere, and in roughly 20 minutes, it was outside the 4-by-2 kilometer approach ellipsoid. Crew Dragon continued to whirl through orbit and burned its thrusters four times to make a carefully choreographed, gradual descent. The data from the demonstration-1 flight is part of the process to secure certification from NASA to fly crew.

An anthropomorphic test device, or mannequin, in flight suit was on board the spacecraft for the maiden flight.

The demonstration mission, called Demo-1, is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a USA commercial company through a public-private partnership.

You can catch the NASA Livestream of the Crew Dragon capsule's return on March 8th starting at 2 AM Eastern Standard Time.

The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule last Sunday, with U.S. astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air-quality tests and inspections.

Crew Dragon's near-perfect flight - an on-time launch, a flawless docking, and six days of operating in the punishing environment of space - did not guarantee a ideal reentry.