SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with ISS

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with ISS

A SpaceX rocket with a newly designed unmanned crew capsule has successfully blasted off from a launch pad in the USA state of Florida bound for the International Space Station.

Crew Draton docked with the space station at 5:51 a.m. EST (1051 GMT), approximately 27 hours after it lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

A member of SpaceX's mission control center called it "unbelievable news".

Cargo versions of the Dragon have flown to the station 16 times since 2012, but the Crew Dragon represents a significant upgrade. It marks the 35th such recovery by SpaceX. The successful maneuver was also greeted with cheers from the Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters of Elon Musk's ambitious space company. Currently, the space agency and its astronauts rely on Russian rockets and crew capsules to ferry Americans to and from ISS - an agreement with Roscosmos that ends in early 2020.

For employees of SpaceX-who have worked to bring Crew Dragon to fruition for most of the last decade-Saturday morning's launch proved cathartic.

The last time USA astronauts were launched from Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Space Coast was in July 2011 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The US government's own shuttle fleet was retired from service eight years ago. It pays Russian Federation to get its people up to the orbiting research facility at a cost of $82 million a head, for a round trip. Once this is completed, the Dragon could be cleared to undertake a manned flight.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies.

"I really believe in the future of space and I think it's important that we be. out there among the stars".


As a result, NASA and SpaceX modified the mission design to constrain the thermal environment and ensure the thrusters would be ready for flight.

"We're going to take it day by day", Bridenstine said of the timeline.

The test flight is without crew aboard, created to demonstrate the potential for carrying astronauts into orbit on a commercial spacecraft.

The weekend's flight aims to test the vessel's reliability and safety in real-life conditions. It will return to Earth with a conventional re-entry and parachute recovery in the Atlantic Friday morning.

NASA published a series of photos showing the arrival of SpaceX's Crew Dragon reusable spacecraft to the International Space Station.

For SpaceX, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

"This is a good day - first day of a new era for the next generation of space explorer", Saint-Jacques said during a live broadcast of the welcoming ceremony.

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