SpaceX launches first Dragon crew capsule into space

03 March, 2019, 19:06 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • LIFT OFF California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket

The new capsule blasted off aboard the Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX - run by billionaire Elon Musk -49 am (0749 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, lighting up the coastline.

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 later this year.

If the six-day demo goes well, SpaceX could launch two astronauts this summer under NASA's commercial crew programme.

America has launched an astronaut capsule into space from its own soil for the first time in eight years, marking a big step towards opening up space travel to paying customers. No private company has ever launched humans into orbit, and during a webcast of the launch, SpaceX employees could be seen packed into the main foyer of the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., cheering each milestone.

- Jason Davis (@jasonrdavis) March 3, 2019The first @Commercial_Crew mission arrived at the space station today when the @SpaceX #CrewDragon completed soft capture on the Harmony module at 5:51am ET.

"To be frank, I'm a little emotionally exhausted", SpaceX founder Elon Musk told reporters barely an hour after liftoff.

Following a successful pad abort test in 2015, the objective of Demo-1 is to demonstrate nominal end-to-end performance of Crew Dragon and its launcher, Falcon 9. The second stage's thrusters carried Crew Dragon into a proper orbital trajectory.

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Jim Bridenstine, head of the U.S. space agency, has explained NASA wants to reduce costs in low orbit to devote resources to getting back to the Moon and constructing a small space station in lunar orbit in the 2020s.

A privately-funded rocket has taken a major step towards once-again sending American astronauts into space from United States soil. The flight is created to demonstrate the possibility for ferrying astronauts in commercial aircraft. They rushed there from Florida after watching the Dragon rocket into orbit early Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Carrying 400 pounds of crew supplies, an Earth plushie toy, and a test dummy called Ripley, the rocket and attached capsule headed skywards without a hitch.

SpaceX already has made 16 trips to the space station using cargo Dragons. In the meantime, the agency has paid for spots on the Russian built Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of over $80 million per set.

In 2014, the U.S. space agency awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for them to take over this task. It docked autonomously under the station astronauts' watchful eyes, instead of relying on the station's robot arm for berthing. SpaceX received $2.6 billion in that funding round, while Boeing received $4.2 billion to support its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

He is outfitted with sensors to measure the impact of the ride for its eventual first flyers.

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