Science

Gallery: 1st Crew Dragon takes flight

Gallery: 1st Crew Dragon takes flight

A day after its launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX's uncrewed Crew Dragon spacecraft has successfully docked with the International Space Station, CNN reported on Sunday.

The spacecraft completed a series of rocket thrusts nudging it into an orbit alignment with the ISS before docking 27 hours later.

The Demo-1 mission, SpaceX's inaugural flight with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, will provide the teams an end-to-end flight test to ensure the spacecraft and systems operate as designed before launching with astronauts.

At 2:49 a.m. ET today, SpaceX launched their latest Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

CNN noted that the successful docking procedure was a first for SpaceX, which has already run Dragon 1 capsule cargo missions to the ISS but previously relied on the station's robotic arm to grab that craft and manually drag it to the docking port.

The launch is a milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from U.S. territory later this year.

Crew Dragon capsule, the company's very first vehicle created to carry people to space, is on the verge of flying humans to space, with a critical test flight underway.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil for the first time since the US Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

Boeing also received a contract in 2014 to develop a space vessel, the Starliner.

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As a result, NASA and SpaceX modified the mission design to constrain the thermal environment and ensure the thrusters would be ready for flight.

Two NASA astronauts, Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, were watching 3.2 miles from the launch pad in the SpaceX launch control room.

Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching USA astronauts on US rockets from USA soil.

Anne McClain, the American aboard the space station, says she's looking forward to saying hello.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk noted the accomplishment in a post-launch news conference with NASA officials Saturday morning.

The capsule is now in orbit, while the Falcon 9 safely landed on one of the drone ships in the Atlantic.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon began its inaugural test flight early Saturday morning.

"We're going to learn a ton from this mission, " said NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders. Ripley-nicknamed in honor of the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies-is fitted with monitors to test the forces that future astronauts will be subjected to on takeoff and when they return to the Earth's atmosphere and then land in the Atlantic, braked by giant parachutes.


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