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SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic 

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Old 03-08-2019, 03:08 PM
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SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic

The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast today (March 8) at 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT), wrapping up a historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

There were no astronauts aboard this flight, only the sensor-packed dummy Ripley named after a character from the "Alien" films. But the success of the test flight, known as Demo-1, helps paves the way for a crewed mission of the SpaceX vehicle, perhaps as early as this summer.

That will be a huge milestone when it comes; astronauts haven't launched to orbit from American soil since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in July 2011.

"Fifty years after humans landed on the moon for the first time, America has driven a golden spike on the trail to new space exploration feats through the work of our commercial partner SpaceX and all of the dedicated and talented flight controllers at NASA and our international partners," NASA astronaut Anne McClain radioed Mission Control from the ISS when Crew Dragon undocked from the orbiting lab earlier today.

"This is a new era in human spaceflight," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday (March 6) during a webcast event with Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke to McClain and Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques from NASA's Mission Control center in Houston.

NASA officials said there was a bit of Apollo history involved in today's Crew Dragon splashdown: It came nearly 50 years to the day after the Apollo 9 spacecraft returned to Earth in the same area on March 13, 1969.

NASA is currently dependent on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to ferry its astronauts to and from the ISS. And this service isn't cheap; each seat on the three-person Soyuz currently sells for about $80 million.

So, in 2014, NASA signed commercial-crew contracts with SpaceX and Boeing — worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively — to foster the development of homegrown American spaceships. Like SpaceX, Boeing is building a capsule, called CST-100 Starliner.

Back when the contracts were signed, NASA officials said they hoped these private spaceships would be up and running by the end of 2017. That didn't happen, of course. But both companies are now getting pretty close, as Demo-1 shows.

The mission began Saturday morning (March 2) with a liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew Dragon carried Ripley and about 450 lbs. (200 kilograms) of supplies for the ISS crew.

Also aboard was the adorable "Little Earth" Celestial Buddies plush toy as a "zero-g" indicator. That toy will remain aboard the station — it will be retrieved by SpaceX's first astroanut crew later this year — but Crew Dragon did return about 330 lbs. (150 kg) of experiment results and other gear to Earth on this flight, NASA officials said.

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Old 03-11-2019, 12:49 PM
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Re: SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic

I was hoping the Dragon was designed so it lands on land without a parachute using its escape thrusters like the Falcon 9 rockets do.

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Old 03-11-2019, 02:09 PM
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Re: SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic

Originally Posted by Illusion View Post
I was hoping the Dragon was designed so it lands on land without a parachute using its escape thrusters like the Falcon 9 rockets do.
Our space technologies are...slowly...improving, but have yet to achieve 1950's space fantasy levels.

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