SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule makes successful return to Earth

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Completing the test mission on Friday brought SpaceX's Crew Dragon one step closer to flying humans - and ending the United States' years-long reliance on Russian Federation to fly astronauts to and from the ISS. "I am proud of the great work that has been done to get us to this point".

- Around 7:45 a.m. ET: Crew Dragon separates from its trunk, "whose exterior contains a solar array that provided power to Dragon and a radiator to reject heat", NASA says. The entry was a concern, he said, because the spacecraft's shape is not as symmetrical as the version used to carry cargo to the station.

It was the final hurdle for the six-day demo, a critical prelude to SpaceX's first flight with astronauts as early as summer.

The crewless mission, called Demo-1, was SpaceX's chance to show it can build a spaceship that can carry people. "There is nothing more important for us than this endeavor".

On the Crew Dragon, he noted, "the windows will be down near our feet on this vehicle".

The Commercial Crew Program is the end result of a series of NASA-funded industry competitions in the wake of the shuttle's retirement to develop a new American spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the space station. It circled the Earth a total of 18 times, firing its engines to ensure it would be on track for a rendezvous with the orbital outpost. SpaceX crews are now retrieving the capsule for transport back to Florida.

A pair of recovery ships was stationed in the Atlantic well before splashdown and quickly moved in, lifting the capsule from the water within an hour.

SpaceX's recovery ship headed out to pull the Dragon onto its "nest" and bring it back to shore for inspection. In this case, Crew Dragon's onboard computers undertook a much riskier maneuver to guide the spacecraft in to dock-a feat that was accomplished just before 6 a.m. EST on Sunday, March 3.

The flight is a milestone for Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as they attempt to end USA dependence on Russian Federation for astronaut shuttles to the space station.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for DM-1 in the hangar about a month before launch. "And that's cool", Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for NASA's human spaceflight program, said during a briefing before the launch, The Washington Post reports.

The mission has so far gone smoothly. "We've run simulations a thousand times, but this is a possibility". "But this is a possibility".

During reentry, Crew Dragon is subjected to absolutely incredible stresses. Signal from the spacecraft had been picked up a few minutes before, earlier than expected.

Significant delays hampered the launch of the Crew Dragon but on March 2 it finally achieved lift-off from storied Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

"It won't be long before our astronaut colleagues are aboard Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner vehicle, and we can't wait".

NASA now pays Roscosmos about $80 million per seat to launch astronauts on Soyuz spacecraft.

The Crew Dragon drifts away from the ISS. NASA has to pay, of course, and the actual launch of each new group of crew members is largely out of their control.

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