SpaceX's Crew Dragon Looks Just Like a Toasted Marshmallow After Fiery Re-Entry

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In June, the Crew Dragon will have to conduct an emergency abort system test, which will ensure that this feature is good to go before SpaceX sends a human crew to the ISS. The craft should land somewhere off the coast of Florida.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is spinning down its orbit after undocking from the International Space Station early Friday.

It is a huge achievement as it was the first autonomous docking of any U.S. spacecraft to the ISS.

The short-notice solicitation, posted on February 13, "provides flexibility and back-up capability" as the companies build their rocket-and-capsule launch systems.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's Roskosmos space agency, praised both Musk and NASA on the successful mission on Twitter. Crew Dragon continued to whirl through orbit and burned its thrusters four times to make a carefully choreographed, gradual descent.

"We were all very excited to see re-entry, parachute and drogue deploy, main deploy, splashdown - everything happened just perfectly".

It marks the first time in 50 years that a capsule designed for astronauts returned from space by plopping into the Atlantic. The last time was on March 13, 1969, when America's Apollo 9 landed in the ocean after orbiting Earth in preparation for moon landings.

The uncrewed capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, off the east coast of Florida, at 8:45 a.m. ET after spending nearly a week at the space station. The data from the demonstration-1 flight is part of the process to secure certification from NASA to fly crew. NASA is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts this year.

Boeing plans to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as next month and with astronauts possibly in August. The Starliner is created to touch down on land.

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Nasa hopes to bring this near-eight year gap in capability to an end with the introduction of two new commercial transportation systems - the Dragon and another vehicle being developed by aerospace giant Boeing.

Although created to carry up to seven passengers, none will be inside Crew Dragon when it attempts re-entry this afternoon.

"This really is an American achievement that spans many generations of NASA administrators and over a decade of work by the NASA team", current Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the splash-down.

Wrapping up a historic mission, SpaceX's innovative Crew Dragon, the first new American spacecraft created to carry astronauts to orbit since the shuttle's debut in 1981, wrapped up a unpiloted maiden test flight Friday, plunging back to an Atlantic Ocean splashdown after a five-day visit to the International Space Station.

The spaceship carried 180kg of supplies and test equipment, including a crash test dummy named Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien.

An anthropomorphic test device, or mannequin, in flight suit was on board the spacecraft for the maiden flight.

Unlike the first Dragon freighter, the Crew Dragon will not be hung up like a trophy at SpaceX HQ.

When fully operational, the craft is expected to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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