SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes down after historic mission

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Astronauts have not launched from Florida for eight years, and NASA is eager to end the drought and reduce its costly dependence on Russian Federation for space station trips. He said such progress was "leading to a day where we are launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil".

This flight is the beginning of a new phase in American spaceflight.

The last generation of United States spacecraft, the Space shuttles, landed like airplanes. In the intervening years, it has been relying on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle crew back and forth. The Crew Dragon spacecraft docked with the ISS on Sunday 3 March carrying supplies, a dummy in a SpaceX flight suit and the Earth plush toy.

ISS Crew Member Earth Continues Work Aboard the Station 1
Earth making sure she is on schedule | Image credit NASA Anne McClain

The return of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to Earth on Friday morning capped the first orbital test mission in United States space agency NASA's long-delayed quest to resume human space flight from USA soil later this year. It's a new way of doing things for NASA. The cargo vessel's heat shield is little different in shape from the designs that protected NASA's manned Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft - round and slightly convex, to disperse the superheated plasma that is produced by the ship's plunge through the steadily thickening air. As it stands, there are two partners: Boeing and SpaceX.

But Elon Musk's space exploration company is one step ahead of Boeing, as it will get key data from this demo mission to make final adjustments ahead of its inaugural crewed flight.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing a total of $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit.

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Crew Dragon brought 180 kilograms of test equipment to the space station, including a dummy named Ripley.

SpaceX's Dragon Crew has successfully returned to earth.

The Crew Dragon is not now carrying any astronauts. The U.S. pays Russian Federation a handsome fee, hundreds of millions of dollars, every year to secure seats for NASA crew members who need to go into space. NASA's WB-57 is capturing the flight. "Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to". "It was lovely", said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.

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The nose cone of the Crew Dragon was closed once the burn completed, unlike the cargo version, which jettisons its own covering during launch. It's slated for Summer 2019, and will carry American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

As Dragon parachuted down to Earth, it deployed four parachutes, which SpaceX commentators called "healthy parachutes".

Crew Dragon began its six-hour trip back to Earth after pulling away from the International Space Station, or ISS.

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So what's left to say? But if the splashdown is successful, SpaceX is not waiting very long to start flying humans into space. NASA explained in a blog post on March 2 that the system is recording "everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission, such as the forces, acceleration, the protection offered by Crew Dragon's seats, and overall environment".