The main goal of this launch is to demonstrate that SpaceX has developed a way to safely transport humans to the International Space Station, which would eventuate in Crew Dragon capsule carrying up to four NASA astronaut passengers.
The next flight test for the Commercial Crew Program is the Boeing Orbital Flight Test and the Boeing Pad Abort Test both planned for the spring, according to NASA. The test dummy - or Smarty as SpaceX likes to call it, given all the instrumentation - is named Ripley after the lead character in the science-fiction "Alien" films. Across the country at SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, company employees went wild, cheering every step of the way until the capsule successfully reached orbit. (NASA TV via AP) In this image taken from NASA Television, Sunday, March 3, 2019, a live screen shows docking scene of SpaceX's new crew capsule and the International Space Station Sunday, March 3, 2019.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques pronounced the docking flawless and called it "a handsome thing to see".
"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight", McClain said from inside Dragon. A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, ready for launch, sits on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, Marc.
This time, the capsule gradually maneuvered closer to the station before docking on its own.
Crowd gathers to watch as NASA and SpaceX make history by launching the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to the International Space Station.
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"Just super excited to see it", Behnken said minutes after the link-up.
After five days on the ISS, the Crew Dragon will return to Earth on March eight for an aquatic touchdown within the Atlantic Ocean.
While most of us were asleep, SpaceX wrote history.
Next up, though, is Boeing, which is looking to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as April and with a crew possibly in August.
Founded by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX has made the trip to the ISS a dozen times since 2012, but only to bring cargo to the station.
As a safety measure, SpaceX sent Crew Dragon to various waypoints outside of the ISS to test the spacecraft's docking capability. The version designed for humans is slightly bigger and safer.