SpaceX Launches Unmanned Capsule To International Space Station

SpaceX Launches Unmanned Capsule To International Space Station

Elon Musk, the CEO of US SpaceX aerospace company, said on Friday, after the launch of the SpaceX-manufactured Dragon 2 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), that, of all the other stages of the mission, he was most of all anxious about Dragon 2's docking with the ISS and its return to Earth.

The only passenger was a life-size test dummy named Ripley.

Following the retirement of American shuttles, NASA paid companies such as SpaceX and Boeing about $8 billion to build and operate crew capsules to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

The Crew Dragon capsule is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) and if all goes to plan, it should dock there at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Among the estimated 5,000 launch spectators at Kennedy were the two NASA astronauts who will strap in as early as July for the second demo, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. We went to the moon and we won.

"This is really a significant achievement in the history of American spaceflight", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said prior to launch. The spacecraft will rely on its computers to autonomously fly the spacecraft gently alongside the station and then attach itself to one of the docking ports.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon began its inaugural test flight early Saturday morning. 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. The unmanned launch is the first stage of the Demo-1 mission, created to test the capabilities of the capsule over the next week, as it heads toward the International Space Station.

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The space agency said in a statement last month that it has "confidence" the companies will be ready in 2019 and said the additional Soyuz contracts are meant to provide "flexibility and back-up" options.

SpaceX already has made 16 trips to the space station using cargo Dragons.

"We want to make sure we keep our partnership with Russian Federation, which has been very strong for a long period of time", explained Bridenstine before the flight. Musk said the redesigned capsule has "hardly a part in common" with its predecessor.

In the video, you can see the inside of the unmanned capsule as it launches, which contains a dummy model named Ripley, and a small Earth plushy.

While the Dragon spacecraft launched successfully Saturday, the mission still has several significant hurdles to clear.

Saturday's flight "is the next critical step in putting people on Dragon", he said.

Despite SpaceX's success at recovering and reusing its rockets, NASA is insisting on brand new boosters from SpaceX for the crew capsule flights. "That would be pretty cool, " he said.

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