SpaceX launches first Dragon crew capsule into space

Katie Ramirez
March 3, 2019

The SpaceX rocket launch marks the first time a commercially built spacecraft designed for human travel will dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

This time around, the only occupant on board SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule was a dummy named Ripley - but NASA plans to put two astronauts aboard in July, although that date could be delayed.

The rocket blasted off without incident at 2:49 am from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, lighting up Florida's coastline.

"Congratulations to all the teams on a successful docking", NASA astronaut Anne McClain radioed Mission Control from aboard the space station.

Shortly after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth, touching down on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" which was ready and waiting off the Florida coast.

Ever since NASA's shuttle fleet was grounded, the agency has been dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft and rockets to ferry its astronauts to and from the orbiting lab.

Keeping its options open, the U.S. space agency in 2014 awarded contracts to both SpaceX and Boeing for them to take over this task.

NASA is also working with Boeing on a test flight of its Starliner capsule, also without a crew, scheduled for this year.

"We are not in a space race, " he said. NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

Manchester United 3-2 Southampton: Premier League - Player Ratings
But with Antonio Valencia set to leave Old Trafford, some are tipping the France global to take over as club captain. Offside calls were ignored, and the striker cut away from pressure to rifle a low shot past Gunn.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies.

But the program has suffered delays as safety requirements are much more stringent for manned flights than for unmanned missions to deploy satellites.

NASA did not want to rely on just one single vehicle, in case of accidents. The private company overhauled the cargo Dragon capsule to make it safe - and comfortable - for passengers.

Although the contact appeared slow, the ISS and the capsule were moving at a speed of over 27,000 kilometers per hour in orbit around the Earth.

SpaceX and Boeing have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.

Needless to say, there's a lot riding on this demonstration and NASA is hoping that SpaceX knocked it out of the park.

"Every mission is important, but this is even more important, said Koenigsmann, the firm's vice-president for build and flight reliability".

For employees of SpaceX-who have worked to bring Crew Dragon to fruition for most of the last decade-Saturday morning's launch proved cathartic.

Now NASA said it is on the verge of recapturing some of the national pride that has been a hallmark of its human spaceflight program since the beginning of the Space Age.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER