SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashes down in Atlantic Ocean

Christopher Davidson
March 8, 2019

Falcon 9 launched Saturday before dawn with the Crew Dragon capsule, created to carry up to seven astronauts, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39A.

Even before the launch, though, NASA officials cautioned that there was still some work to do on Crew Dragon before it would be ready to carry astronauts. The company plans to send astronauts onboard the Crew Dragon as early as this summer.

NASA has set up a live video feed to allow space fans to follow the craft's descent.

The Crew Dragon capsule is heading back to Earth after spending a week docked at the ISS. Crew Dragon is now whirling through orbit and is scheduled to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 am ET after spending six days in space for the uncrewed demonstration mission.

This marks the first and only demo mission that Crew Dragon will fly without humans on board.

The mission comes at a precarious time for brash billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, who has come under fire for his sometimes erratic behavior.

That test is now scheduled for June.

A judge in that case gave Musk until Monday to say why he should not be held in contempt for violating the terms of the settlement. "But this is a possibility".

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The Crew Dragon re-entering the atmosphere on March 8.

Ripley has sensors attached to her neck, head and spine. NASA explained in a blog post on March 2 that the system is recording "everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission, such as the forces, acceleration, the protection offered by Crew Dragon's seats, and overall environment".

Once again, cameras aboard the International Space Station showed stunning views of Crew Dragon in space.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is an upgraded version of the robotic cargo-carrying Dragon that has been ferrying payloads to and from the space station since 2012, a year after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet. The private sector's ability to do this has been viewed as a crucial next step in space exploration.

The capsule's approach as seen on the earth's horizon from the station represented "the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight", McClain tweeted on Sunday.

After executing a docking maneuver, scientists unloaded 400 pounds of equipment and supplies. Success will also mean that "Earthy", a plush anthropomorphic doll of our planet, will be coming home from the space station.

They will be joined by three more crew members on March 14: NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

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