SpaceX's Crew Dragon Ready for Debut Flight On March 2

Christopher Davidson
March 7, 2019

The SLS will use four of the engines to launch astronauts aboard our Orion spacecraft on missions to the Moon and beyond.

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.

The successful launch was a very big deal for both SpaceX and NASA, which desperately needs a new way to get its scientists to the ISS without relying on Russian rocket launches, but it wasn't the only big test of Crew Dragon this weekend.

SpaceX's 16-foot-tall (4.9 meter) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.

During its five-day stay, USA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon's cabin. The round-trip to the International Space Station is created to provide data on the performance of the company's Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and other systems and operations that NASA will evaluate, as part of the process to certify SpaceX to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

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"Crew Dragon" was launched on March 2nd and is an unmanned mission that will be transporting 400 pounds of "supplies and equipment to the Space Station". It was the first time a spacecraft has docked with the adapter since it was installed in August 2016.

No humans were aboard but the craft did carry a dummy nicknamed Ripley, named after the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films. In a docking with a crew aboard, the capsule would likewise operate on its own, though the astronauts might push a button or two and would be able to intervene if necessary.

Several lasers and software helped dragon capsule to scan docking adapter, and it attached itself. They suggested that the capsule should have a few more hatches closed. On March 8 it will separate again and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

If the spacecraft's descent proceeds in a normal regime, it will travel to the orbital outpost with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on its board in July.

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