Published: Wed, March 06, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Milestone: Capsule with dummy aboard docks at space station

Milestone: Capsule with dummy aboard docks at space station

In order to certify Crew Dragon to carry humans, NASA and SpaceX will complete a series of four test flights, of which Demo-1 is the second.

NASA hopes to test the technology in the summer with human astronauts aboard.

A veteran of two spaceflights, Garrett Reisman left NASA in 2011 to play a senior role in the development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX until a year ago.

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 USA spacecraft to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's Dragon capsule - launched on a test mission for NASA - was on Sunday approaching the International Space Station, where it was set to dock for the first time.

The Crew Dragon is created to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8, NASA said. The capsule's nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth, to expose the docking mechanism.

BRIDENSTINE: We have another five days before the Dragon releases from the International Space Station and comes home safely.

In this photo provided by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured just beside the International Space Station.

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Both astronauts - Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken - were at SpaceX Mission Control in Southern California, observing all the action.

"The Crew Dragon is a fundamental redesign, with hardly a part in common with Dragon", SpaceX founder Elon Musk said early Saturday morning, after the launch, during a news briefing.

MCCLAIN: On behalf of Ripley, little Earth, myself and our crew, welcome to the Crew Dragon. Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems.

SpaceX may get there first, in July based on how the test schedules are shaping up, with Boeing following just a few weeks later.

"This is a good day - first day of a new era for the next generation of space explorer", Saint-Jacques said during a live broadcast of the welcoming ceremony. But the program has suffered delays as safety requirements are much more stringent for manned flights than for unmanned missions to deploy satellites. NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

"We're looking forward to being one customer of many customers in a robust commercial market place in low-Earth orbit, so we can drive down costs and increase access in ways that historically have not been possible".

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.

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