Published: Fri, March 08, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

SpaceX Dragon: ISS astronaut taxi faces ‘MOST DANGEROUS’ test yet on re-entry

SpaceX Dragon: ISS astronaut taxi faces ‘MOST DANGEROUS’ test yet on re-entry

Dock at the International Space Station: check. While no humans were on board, the capsule did host a test dummy named Ripley and a cute Earth plushie toy, which was adopted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain. 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.

However, this could be the most risky part of the entire mission, according to Dr Bradley Tucker, an astrophysicist at The Australian National University. NASA is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts this year.

Elon Musk, the CEO of United States private aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, called Russia's rocket engineering "excellent" and said the country's rocket engines are the best now flying, also suggesting that the reusable version of Russia's Angara rocket would be "great".

The unmanned capsule's voyage marks a key milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from US soil later this year.

NASA has always been relying on Russian rockets and spacecraft to ferry astronauts and cargo into the International Space Station since it retired its shuttle fleet in 2011. After undocking from the space station, the Crew Dragon will fly for about 5 hours before it begins to slow down in order to re-enter Earth's atmosphere.

ISS Crew Member Earth Continues Work Aboard the Station 1
Earth making sure she is on schedule | Image credit NASA Anne McClain

Boeing is scheduled to fly its first uncrewed mission to the station by next month at the earliest, though that date is likely to slip, officials have said.

Musk's tweet was his reaction an article, published by the Ars Technica technology news outlet, about Russia's reaction to the recent launch of SpaceX-manufactured Crew Dragon vehicle and its docking to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told Space.com that he is most concerned about the parachute system operating smoothly. He found the capsule "very slick" and called it business class. More recently, the SEC claimed he violated the terms of the settlement, which require an attorney to review tweets that could affect Tesla's stock price.

Musk has also faced trouble at SpaceX. After Musk smoked marijuana during a podcast appearance, NASA announced it was conducting a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing.

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