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SpaceX capsule becomes 1st commercial spacecraft to dock with International Space Station

08 Марта 2019

The spacecraft also docked with the International Space Station and, for the first time ever, astronauts got a chance to explore it in space. To mitigate the costs, NASA opted to contract SpaceX and Boeing.

The capsule is created to dock and undock automatically with the space station.

After launch, the Falcon 9 rocket booster used to deliver the craft to space returned and was recovered by the SpaceX drone ship called "Of Course I Still Love You". Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is set for 8:45 am, Friday, March 8.

Last week, upon completing its pre-launch reviews, NASA estimated that if the demonstration flight went well we could see crewed flights within a few months. The scientists took readings from the inside of the Crew Dragon, and have been outfitted with respiration aids to make sure they wouldn't be in any hazard if the environment contained in the capsule wasn't good.

Both Crew Dragon2 and Cargo Dragon 2 are designed for launches as payloads of Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. The test dummy was nicknamed Ripley after the main character in the "Alien" movies. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

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.

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SpaceX's 27-foot-long capsule rocketed into orbit early Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a mannequin strapped into one of its four seats in a dashing, white-and-black, form-fitting SpaceX spacesuit. (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.

Like Ripley, the capsule is rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses, and to monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems throughout the flight.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted his congratulations on "this historic achievement", which brings the United States a big step closer to its goal of again flying astronauts into space on American rockets.

The switch from NASA owning spacecraft to paying private firms for a service was initiated under former president Barack Obama - but due to development delays, has come to fruition under US President Donald Trump.

At Saturday's post-launch news conference, Musk said he'd be happy to fly on the revamped Dragon.

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SpaceX capsule becomes 1st commercial spacecraft to dock with International Space Station