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SpaceX's Crew Dragon Successfully Undocks From International Space Station

09 Mars 2019

It's a wrap: SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean and concluded one of the most important missions to the International Space Station (ISS). "I am proud of the great work that has been done to get us to this point".

Five hours later, Dragon had moved into an orbit lower than the ISS.

SpaceX's new commercial astronaut capsule, the Crew Dragon, has completed its first test flight, falling into the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday morning.

SpaceX has been delivering goods to the ISS for several years now with its cargo version of the spacecraft.

Until SpaceX and Boeing are certified by NASA, Russia will continue to be the only country taking humans to the ISS.

"We measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment", SpaceX Vice President of Mission Assurance Koenigsmann said before the launch. "There'll be a Russian on our flights, and we'll still have an American on a Soyuz flight". The parachute system that flew on this test flight was not entirely the same as the one that will be used for the crew flight, and neither were avionics and life support entirely finalized. But before astronauts can climb aboard, SpaceX has to prove Dragon is ready. The station's crew spent several days monitoring the spacecraft while docked to the station before closing hatches between the station and spacecraft March 7. It circled the Earth a total of 18 times, firing its engines to ensure it would be on track for a rendezvous with the orbital outpost. The ship will carry the capsule back to land by Sunday.

The astronauts have begun procedures ahead of Crew Dragon's undocking at 2:31 a.m. Friday.

For more updates on the Crew Dragon, visit SpaceX's Twitter account and website. Boeing is set to test their crewed vehicle in Spring this year. During Saturday's post-launch briefing, reporters asked Musk what he was most anxious about.

"We want to take a moment to recognize this milestone accomplishment that marks the inaugural mission of the commercial crew program", she said.

Unlike the first Dragon freighter, the Crew Dragon will not be hung up like a trophy at SpaceX HQ. "That [shape] could potentially cause a roll instability on reentry", Musk said.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're headed with this flight". Signal from the spacecraft had been picked up a few minutes before, earlier than expected.

Government officials still have safety concerns about both spacecrafts, according to a recent Reuters report and documents from NASA's safety advisory panel, all of which will need to be resolved before they can fly humans.

The US's new commercial astronaut capsule has completed its demonstration flight with a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Nasa buys seats for its astronauts, who train with their cosmonaut counterparts. The Starliner's first crewed flight would follow, in August or later.

Dragon also marks a return to a "vintage" format: it is the first USA capsule since the pioneering Apollo program.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Successfully Undocks From International Space Station