Splashdown for SpaceX Dragon capsule, World News & Top Stories

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is safely aboard the company’s recovery vessel Go Searcher following splashdown at 8:45 a.m. EST on Friday

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is safely aboard the company’s recovery vessel Go Searcher following splashdown at 8:45 a.m. EST on Friday

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule returned safely to Earth early Friday, wrapping up its inaugural mission to the International Space Station and signaling that the USA may soon be able to ferry astronauts to and from space without relying on Russian spacecraft.

On March 2, SpaceX launched the first test flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Boeing, meanwhile, is scheduled to send an uncrewed Starliner to the space station no earlier than next month, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It marks the first time in 50 years that a capsule designed for astronauts returned from space by plopping into the Atlantic. The last such incident: the Apollo 9 splashdown on March 13, 1969.

NASA TV footage showed the capsule gently drifting into the ocean, its decent slowed by its four main orange and white parachutes, which folded into the water around it as boats sped toward the site. Eastern March 8, about six hours before its splashdown in the Atlantic.

The three astronauts on board the ISS - American Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko - were able to get a first glimpse of the SpaceX capsule in microgravity while it was docked at the station this week.

Five hours after the Crew Dragon detaches from the ISS at about 07:30 EST (3:30 p.m. Moscow time), the spacecraft will activate its braking engines.

The re-entry into Earth's atmosphere will test its heat shield for the first time.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast at 8:45 a.m. EST Friday

Long-range cameras have also been loaded onto the recovery ship.

NASA's live video feed allowed space fans to follow the craft's descent.

A spacesuit-wearing, sensor-laden mannequin nicknamed Ripley (in honor of Sigourney Weaver's character in the "Alien" sci-fi movies) rode in one of the Dragon's seats, to document what living, breathing astronauts would hear and feel. The dummy is part of the test to make sure the capsule is suitable for humans during space travel.

Musk's company is in fierce competition with Boeing to become the first private company to launch humans into space on its own rocket. "That's mainly because we always want, in case there are issues with either system, that we have an integrated crew".

Minutes before splash-down, Crew Dragon deployed its four parachutes, easing some concerns about functionality that both NASA and SpaceX had before the landing. NASA and SpaceX have not been forthcoming about what those problems were, and continue to refer to them vaguely as "anomalies", even in an October safety advisory panel report submitted to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "You see some orange light flickering".

Before the undocking, ISS crew members closed and locked the Dragon's hatch on Thursday afternoon.

Last week, SpaceX commenced its most vital mission till date, with the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1, Sending a test dummy in space and bringing it back safely. The new worldwide docking adapter that was installed by astronauts during a spacewalk in August 2016 was used for the first time by the Crew Dragon.

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