Trump Congratulates NASA, SpaceX on Successful Dragon 2 Launch to ISS

04 March, 2019, 04:59 | Author: Chad Warren
  • The capsule is expected to reach the International Space Station on Sunday

Aerospace company SpaceX and NASA launched the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft in the early hours of Saturday morning from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, marking a significant step forward in NASA again being able to send astronauts to space without the assistance of its worldwide partners.

The demonstration mission of SpaceX's new Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked Sunday on the International Space Station, passing a key test before it can begin taking U.S. astronauts into space.

The Dragon crew capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Ten minutes after a picture flawless launch, the SpaceX rocket's first stage successfully touched down on a recovery ship 300 miles off the Florida coast.

Every successful stage of the mission-whose planning suffered three-year delays-triggered cheers at the firm's headquarters and at Kennedy Space Center.

The Dragon should reach the space station Sunday.

On the night of March 7-8, the spacecraft is scheduled to back away from its port on the station, descend through the atmosphere, open its parachutes and splash down into the Atlantic Ocean. It marks the 35th such recovery by SpaceX.

The sky over the launch site was clear Friday, with meteorologists saying there was an 80 per cent chance of conditions being favorable overnight.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said at a post-launch press conference Saturday that the mission is the "culmination of a long dream for a lot of people at SpaceX". 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.

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NASA said the the unmanned craft was a significant step for "launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil again for the first time since the retirement of the space".

The excitement was palpable at Cape Canaveral, from the space-fan volunteers guiding media on site, to the tourists who came to watch the launch light up the overcast skies.

If all goes well, the completion of the test mission will instill confidence in NASA, SpaceX and even the astronauts slated to go on the first crewed mission - the first from US soil in eight years - that Elon Musk's SpaceX can perform the task. It pays Russian Federation to get its people up to the ISS orbiting research facility at a cost of $US82 million ($116 million) a head for a round trip.

In 2014, NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing a combined $6.8bn contract to build a pair of new spacecraft.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

"As a country, we're looking forward to being one customer of many customers, in a robust commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit, so that we can drive down costs and increase access in ways that historically have not been possible", he said Saturday following Dragon's launch.

"It was super exciting to see it", Bob Behnken, one of the two astronauts slated to ride in the Crew Dragon's first crewed test later this year (possibly in July), told the BBC.

The mission aims to test the vessel's reliability and safety in real-life conditions.

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