Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Elon Musk's SpaceX 'Crew Dragon' makes successful landing

Elon Musk's SpaceX 'Crew Dragon' makes successful landing

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday after more than six days in space, completing its demonstration mission for United States space agency NASA.

After hours of suspense, the Dragon spacecraft touched down at 8:45 am (1345 GMT) some 230 miles (370 kilometers) off the coast of the U.S. state of Florida. Now, thanks to SpaceX's successful test mission, astronauts may soon have an alternate, more affordable, mode of transportation to the ISS.

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, was selected along with the Boeing group by NASA in 2014 to develop the next generation of space vehicles for USA astronauts, after the end of the 1981-2011 space shuttle program.

And former president Barack Obama noted that it was his government that launched the commercialization of astronaut space transport.

The re-entry into Earth's atmosphere tested the vehicle's heat shield for the first time, and Musk had previously said that the phase was "probably my biggest concern".

NASA and SpaceX teams gathered in the early morning hours at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to follow the spacecraft's return journey and ocean splashdown.

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While the Little Earth stayed with the astronauts on the ISS, the Crew Dragon had to go - carrying around 330lbs worth of experiment results and gear, Space X's Crew Dragon capsule got ready to return back to Earth for the final stage of its mission.

"I don't think we saw really anything in the mission so far - we've got to do the data reviews - that would preclude us from having a crewed mission later this year", Stich said.

Both systems must give NASA two independent means - and at a lower cost than that of the Space Shuttle Program - to access the ISS by 2020.

"For the first time, we've gotten to see an end-to-end test, and so now we've brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we've gotten to see how they all work together, and that's very important as we move toward putting people onboard", he said.

After a six-day mission to the International Space Station, Crew Dragon detached at about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) and sped back to earth, reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) splash-down about 200 miles (320 km) off the Florida coast.

While Space X is the first to complete its test, it is not the only private company contracted by NASA to build the astronaut "taxis" of the future. For now, Russian Federation will continue to be the only country taking humans to the ISS.

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