SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission Successful

SpaceX's Dragon Crew Successfully Splashes Down

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Wrapping up a historic mission, SpaceX's innovative Crew Dragon, the first new American spacecraft created to carry astronauts to orbit since the shuttle's debut in 1981, wrapped up a unpiloted maiden test flight Friday, plunging back to an Atlantic Ocean splashdown after a five-day visit to the International Space Station.

After a six-day mission on the orbital outpost, Crew Dragon autonomously detached about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) on Friday and sped back to earth reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) splash-down in the Atlantic, about 200 miles off the Florida coast.

But the bottom of the Crew Dragon is slightly asymmetrical, its ideal contours rendered imperfect by the four pairs of engines built around the base of the ship. It then trailed the ISS for 24 hours before achieving a landmark docking via the station's Harmony module, and special docking adapter, on March 3.

The hatch of the Crew Dragon was closed at 17:39 UTC on 7 March, leaving only the spacesuited, instrumented mannequin Ripley inside the capsule - as well as a limited amount of cargo to be returned to Earth. But the Dragon went through all the steps that will have to be executed when astronauts climb aboard the next spaceship, as early as this July.

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NASA's Bridenstine considers privately built and operated spacecraft the way to go when it comes to rides to the space station.

If deemed a complete success, the mission would give Nasa increased confidence in one of its prime contractors and propel the space agency a step closer to restoring human spaceflight from U.S. soil. That completes its short mission to the ISS that put the module created to carry humans to space to test for the first time.

NASA has been unable to fly its own astronauts since the final Space Shuttle retired in 2011, after which the space agency turned to the private sector to develop the next generation of human spaceflight hardware.

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The MSF president added that in light of this, MSF were seeking to provide patients with more control over their Ebola treatment. More than 40% of Ebola deaths are still taking place in communities rather than at treatment centres, according to the group.

"We can't wait", she said.

The inaugural commercial crew test flight, Demo-1 mission, is uncrewed.

The spaceship carried 180kg of supplies and test equipment, including a crash test dummy named Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien. The asymmetry in the Dragon that results, however, complicates the aerodynamics of reentry, introducing the possibility that the ship could begin rolling uncontrollably while screaming down to Earth. But the plush toy, nicknamed Li'l Earthie, is staying behind.

On March 2, SpaceX launched the first test flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft. I've said it before: "It is a new era", said McClain. "He's going to welcome us aboard probably when we get there".

The mission - which had no humans aboard, only a dummy covered in sensors - went according to plan.

Unlike the first Dragon freighter, the Crew Dragon will not be hung up like a trophy at SpaceX HQ. This Demo-2 launch is set for "this summer".

The Dragon launched from Cape Canaveral on Saturday. Nasa buys seats for its astronauts, who train with their Russian cosmonaut counterparts.

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