SpaceX has just completed their first flight of a new spaceship designed to fly astronauts to space.
Crew Dragon has successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after completing a six-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and back. In future missions, the ship will be used to carry NASA astronauts into space for the first time since July 2011. Since then, American astronauts have had to be flown into space by Russia’s Soyuz rockets.
The splashdown occurred at 8:45 a.m. EST, about 230 miles off the Florida coast. The test mission commenced on March 2nd, with liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It then spent five days linked up to the ISS before departing down to Earth.
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) March 8, 2019
The 14,000-pound shuttle is now set to carry astronauts up into space once analysis and a launch date has been confirmed. There were no crew in the capsule on the departing or returning test flight, except for a crash dummy and 400 pounds of cargo.
It’s definitely one of SpaceX’s most important missions to date and brings America one step closer to flying its own astronauts into space once again.
Speaking to Science Insider, NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke about the significance of the mission:
This is a critically important event in American history,
We’re on the precipice of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil again for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle.
SpaceX and American manufacturer Boeing both secured contracts from NASA to build and launch missions into space for the US space agency. The SpaceX contract is worth $2.6 billion with Boeing receiving $4.2 billion to create its CST-100 Starliner spaceship.
It could be as early as July before we see Crew Dragon carrying astronauts to and from the ISS. NASA’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be going up in the capsule and creating history in the process.