SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Departs Space Station, Heads Home to Complete Maiden Voyage

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The latest images of Earth palling around with the Expedition 58 crew has her doing some station maintenance, keeping up with her schedule and hitting the gym with McClain.

The first-of-its-kind mission, ahead of SpaceX's crewed test flight slated for June, brought 400 pounds of test equipment to the space station, including a dummy named Ripley, outfitted with sensors around its head, neck, and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.

The capsule will de-orbit and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m.

However, this could be the most unsafe part of the entire mission, according to Dr Bradley Tucker, an astrophysicist at The Australian National University.

Elon Musk, the CEO of United States private aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, called Russia's rocket engineering "excellent" and said the country's rocket engines are the best now flying, also suggesting that the reusable version of Russia's Angara rocket would be "great". 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.

The reentry is one of the biggest tests of the Dragon and of SpaceX, the company founded by Musk in 2002 with the ultimate goal of flying humans to Earth's orbit and beyond.

No human spaceflight has launched from America since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, and Nasa has relied on Russian Soyuz modules to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS in the intervening years.

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

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told Space.com that he is most concerned about the parachute system operating smoothly. During its five-day stay, US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques ran tests and inspected Crew Dragon's cabin.

In a call with the astronauts on board the station Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said, "It was inspiring to see the launch, and it was actually more inspiring to see the docking, and to see you all open that door and float into that spacecraft knowing that we'll very soon have American astronauts arriving at the International Space Station in the same vehicle".

The spacecraft will need to make a safe descent on Friday.

Musk, also co-founder of electric auto maker Tesla Inc, will be watching closely.

Dr Tucker said: "The most unsafe part is what we call re-entry".

Musk has also faced trouble at SpaceX. And Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Musk's marijuana use also prompted the Pentagon to review his security clearance.

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