Built capsule with a dummy aboard docks at space station

04 March, 2019, 08:52 | Author: Amos Gonzales
  • LIFT OFF California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket

SpaceX's new Dragon capsule successfully docked on the International Space Station on Sunday, NASA and SpaceX confirmed during a live broadcast of the mission.

The capsule has made two orbits since its launch on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

This Demo-1 mission is a critical test of the spacecraft, confirming the performance of its key systems and identifying any issues that need to be corrected before a crewed test flight, Demo-2, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.

This is the first of four test flights that will prove Dragon 2's readiness for manned flights, NASASpaceflight.com reports.

SpaceX's new Crew Dragon capsule has arrived at the International Space Station, acing its second milestone in just over a day. A dummy called Ripley - so-named for Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley in the 1979 science fiction movie Alien - is carrying sensors meant to help SpaceX engineers keep tabs on the journey, according to Space.com.

Docking is expected to be followed by a hatch opening and welcoming ceremony by the Expedition 58 crew of the International Space Station, which includes Russian cosmonaut and station commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain.

The Saturday morning launch went off without a hitch, much to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's relief.

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Boeing, which is working on its own CST-100 Starliner craft for the Commercial Crew Program, has yet to launch an uncrewed test but is scheduled to do so no earlier than April. While cargo Dragon spacecraft have been pulled in for their berthing with the station's robotic arm, the Crew Dragon is built to guide itself autonomously to its hookup.

For its part, Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, congratulated NASA on the successful Crew Dragon docking.

Bridenstine has explained that NASA wants to reduce costs in low orbit to devote resources to getting back to the Moon and assembling a small space station in lunar orbit in the 2020s. But it won't happen before 2023 at the earliest - with the rocket, far more powerful than that used for the Dragon mission, still in development. Aboard Dragon is Ripley, a mannequin fitted with instruments to gather data during the flight, along with 181 kg of supplies and equipment.

Crew Dragon's launch and docking bring the nation one-step closer to the return of human launches to the space station from the United States for the first time since 2011 - the last space shuttle mission.

The unmanned test flight will remain docked to the ISS before returning to earth on Friday, March 8.

Dragon's hatch is set to be closed at 12:25 PM EST (17:25 UTC) on Thursday, March 7. Like its Dragon 1 predecessor, the Dragon 2 capsule will separate from the spacecraft's trunk prior to reentry.

The new space vehicle, carrying only cargo and a human dummy, launched Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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