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SpaceX Just Made History With the Launch of Its Crew Dragon Spacecraft

SpaceX Just Made History With the Launch of Its Crew Dragon Spacecraft

Although the Dragon capsule itself is created to carry a crew of up to seven astronauts skyward, the one that launched on Saturday - Demo-1 is its designation - is more of a test run: it's carrying a few hundred pounds of cargo, plus a sensor-filled dummy named "Ripley".

The rocket blasted off without incident at 2:49 am from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, lighting up Florida's coastline.

The Falcon 9 blasts off, carrying Crew Dragon for the first time. Across the country at SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, company employees went wild, cheering every step of the way until the capsule successfully reached orbit.

After its stay, the Dragon capsule will undock from the station, return to Earth and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

"Spacecraft separation!" NASA confirmed in a blog update less than 20 minutes after liftoff.

March 2, 2019 A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft, lifts off an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Over the next 24 hours, the spacecraft will conduct a series of orbital phasing maneuvers. It is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station Saturday morning.

The key test flight is aiming to prove to NASA that astronauts will be safe on future flights.

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After the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011, NASA turned for the first time to the private sector to build the next generation of human spaceflight hardware.

Boeing is now scheduled to follow SpaceX's flight with an uncrewed test launch of its Starliner spacecraft as early as next month. But summer and fall came and went with neither spacecraft leaving the ground.

The docking represents a "very critical mission", Kirk Shireman, the manager of NASA's space station program, told reporters last week.

For SpaceX, which Musk founded in 2002, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

The Crew Dragon capsule was launched on top of one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, and contains 400lb of cargo, as well as a sophisticated crash dummy named Ripley, a reference to Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien franchise.

The Dragon carried 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment - slightly more than the weight of two astronauts - to the station.

Early on Friday, Musk, who is also a chief executive officer of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, tweeted a photo of the inside of Crew Dragon capsule with a mannequin nicknamed Ripley strapped inside.


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