SpaceX Successfully Makes Historic Launch And Landing

Cristina Cross
March 6, 2019

Moments later, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko passed through the open pressurized mating adapter on the forward end of the International Space Station and into a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. No private company has ever launched humans into orbit, and during a webcast of the launch, SpaceX employees could be seen packed into the main foyer of the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., cheering each milestone.

The trio will join the station's Expedition 59 crew and return to Earth in October 2019 as members of Expedition 60.

In a historic moment during a weekend of historic moments for spaceflight, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module forward port via "soft capture" at 5:51 a.m. EST Sunday, according to NASA.

They opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any US spacecraft to the International Space Station.

A sleek new American-built capsule with just a test dummy aboard docked smoothly with the International Space Station on Sunday, bringing the USA a big step closer to getting back in the business of launching astronauts.

Launched on the company's Falcon 9 rocket, it was the first test mission of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and rocket designed for humans.

For the Demo-1 mission, Crew Dragon is delivering more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station. SpaceX needs to nail the debut of its crew Dragon capsule before putting people on board later this year.

The dummy pilot is a mannequin nicknamed "Ripley" after Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien films.

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Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who will be the first human crew on the Dragon, sent commands from their base in California to position the vehicle before it made its final approach to the ISS.

Space X is entrepreneur Elon Musk's company.

During the rendezvous, Dragon went through numerous milestones, first coming into view at around 3,000 meters out, before approaching towards the Approach Elipsode and arrive at Waypoint 0.

That said, the Crew Dragon is also created to be an enjoyable ride.

Eleven minutes into the flight, the Dragon is let go and must make its own way to the station.

Ripley was joined in the ship's maiden flight by Little Earth - a plush toy which looks like the Earth with arms and legs.

NASA says that Boeing's CST-100 Starliner continues to undergo testing in preparation for its Orbital Flight Test, slated for no earlier than April.

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

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