Built Capsule With A Dummy Aboard Docks At Space Station

Built Capsule With A Dummy Aboard Docks At Space Station

Crew Dragon docked with the ISS on March 3 at 6:02 a.m. EST, becoming the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock with the orbiting laboratory. After that, NASA will make a decision on certifying the Crew Dragon for regular flights to the ISS. The capsule is the first American spacecraft which can carry a crew that has been designed in nearly a decade.

As part of Sunday's shakedown, the station astronauts sent commands for the Dragon to retreat and then move forward again, before the capsule closed in for good. NASA's goal in awarding this contract to SpaceX is to bring crewed orbital launch back to US soil. The three astronauts of Expedition 58 - cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques - also entered Crew Dragon, which can carry up to seven astronauts. The test dummy was nicknamed Ripley after the main character in the "Alien" movies.

After stage separation, Falcon 9's first stage came down to land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. There was an opportunity that the Crew Dragon, which Russian area operators warned didn't have a backup docking system, would fail to efficiently connect to the station. Crew Dragon is one of two private USA spacecraft being developed to transport NASA astronauts to and from the ISS. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat. Musk jokingly said they better wait a week, until the Dragon returns, before responding. Boeing has similar uncrewed and crewed test flights planned for April and August, respectively, for their own certification tests. He marvels at how the Dragon has just 30 buttons and touch screens, compared with the space shuttle cockpit's 2,000 switches and circuit breakers.

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Both the mannequin and the capsule were loaded with a series of sensors which measure noise, vibration and the stress among several other relevant data which play an essential role during the launch and flight towards the International Space Station.

As many as seven astronauts could squeeze in, although four will be the norm once flights get going, allowing for a little cargo room. Some of the equipment needs more work - possibly even redesign - before serving human passengers.

SpaceX aims to launch Behnken and Hurley as early as July.