SpaceX Dragon capsule splashes down in Atlantic Ocean

13 Mars, 2019, 16:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Falcon 9 CRS-15

The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule last Sunday, with US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections.

Although this is the capsule's last challenge for this mission, it may also be one of the biggest.

The Crew Dragon capsule has gone through a successful docking test with the International Space Station and subsequently spent a week with the astronauts on it, after it had delivered a sensor-packed dummy- named Ripley after the iconic Alien franchise heroine- around 450lbs worth of cargo and a Little Earth plush toy that acted as a zero-g indicator. Now, five days after its historic inaugural mission, the Crew Dragon is ready to go home.

Pending the analysis of flight data, everything indicated that SpaceX - founded in 2002 by Elon Musk - had passed its test from beginning to end, a result that drew widespread praise. Demo-2, the first crewed test flight, will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the spacecraft's final flight to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

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Launched on March 2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Dragon docked at ISS the following day before successfully undocking Friday some 250 miles over Sudan. Upon entering the Earth's atmospheres, it deployed a set of four parachutes to help slow down its rapid pace. "Beautiful parachute deployment", said Benji Reed, the director of crew mission management at SpaceX. The capsule safely landing in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, from where it was quickly scooped up by an awaiting recovery vessel.

"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. It comprises eight SuperDraco thrusters that can ignite during the ascent and fly a Crew Dragon capsule far away from its failing Falcon 9 rocket. However, NASA described the mission as "absolutely critical" in its effort to replace the space shuttle (which retired in July 2011). Contracted missions for NASA, each of which will carry four astronauts, will follow sometime after that. Boeing plans to test an uncrewed mission on its Starliner spacecraft in early April.

SpaceX has completed the first flight of a commercial spaceship created to fly people.

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