SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully docked to ISS

Katie Ramirez
March 6, 2019

The dummy in the capsule - which SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann prefers to call a "smartie" - is fitted with monitors to test the forces to which future astronauts will be subjected on take-off and when they return to the Earth's atmosphere and then splash down in the Atlantic, slowed down by giant parachutes.

Flight computers guided the craft directly into a docking port, unlike previous cargo Dragon spacecrafts that have been attached to the space station after capture by a robotic arm.

That the docking procedure went without error is not only a sigh of relief for NASA's Commercial Crew Program-the project to replace the retired Space Shuttle that is years behind schedule-but excellent news for the three astronauts now residing on the station.

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.

Crew Dragon, which carried some supplies to the ISS along with a sensor-laden mannequin, is slated to undock from the space station at 2:31 a.m.

About five hours after the Crew Dragon docked at the space station, the Expedition 58 crew held a formal welcoming ceremony in which they commended the achievement of NASA's commercial crew program and gave a live video tour of the new addition to their home. After undocking from the space station, Crew Dragon will begin its descent to Earth. SpaceX needs to nail the debut of its crew Dragon capsule before putting people on board later this year.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who will be the first human crew on the Dragon, sent commands from their base in California to position the vehicle before it made its final approach to the ISS.

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk said, "To be frank, I'm a little emotionally exhausted".

The only way astronauts can get to space are via Russian rockets, yet the cost of using them has steeply risen over the years.

MARTIN: But if all goes according to plan, Bridenstine says this is the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight.

Nasa is also working with Boeing on crew transport. Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems.

SpaceX is looking to start flights from as early as July this year. Once this is completed, the Dragon could be cleared to undertake a manned flight.

"I know you heard the applause and all the clapping that went along with the accomplishment today and so it's just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here".

NASA says that Boeing's CST-100 Starliner continues to undergo testing in preparation for its Orbital Flight Test, slated for no earlier than April.

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