Thursday, 21 March, 2019

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule undocks from ISS on way to Earth

ISS crew member and plush toy Earth continues work aboard the station Earth hitting the treadmill with NASA astronaut Anne Mc Clain | Image credit NASA Anne McClain
Cary Marshall | 08 March, 2019, 15:23

The main goal of the Crew Dragon mission was to test whether the capsule can safely deliver astronauts to and from the International Space Station. After a five-day mission on the orbital outpost, Crew Dragon was set to autonomously detach about 2:30 a.m EST (0730 GMT) on Friday and descend to earth for an 8:45 a.m. splash-down off Florida's Cape Canaveral coast.

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

In 2014, NASA awarded contracts worth a combined $6.8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing to build spacecraft capable of carrying NASA's astronauts to the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth.

The unmanned capsule's voyage marks a key milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from US soil later this year.

While SpaceX has aced the proceedings so far, this next stage will test the Crew Dragon's departure, re-entry and parachute systems.

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

The SpaceX mission is attempting to demonstrate the Elon Musk-owned company's ability to transport astronauts between Earth and the ISS, replacing NASA's space shuttle fleet, which was retired in 2011.

Boeing is scheduled to fly its first uncrewed mission to the station by next month at the earliest, though that date is likely to slip, officials have said. The Crew Dragon is the first capsule made by a private company, as opposed to spaceships built by NASA, that is created to carry humans into space and been successfully launched into space.

There are now three astronauts on board the space station: Anne C. McClain from Spokane, Washington; station commander Oleg Kononenko from Russian; and David Saint-Jacques from Canada. He found the capsule "very slick" and called it business class.

Musk and his companies have been under scrutiny lately. More recently, the SEC claimed he violated the terms of the settlement, which require an attorney to review tweets that could affect Tesla's stock price. The Air Force recently announced it was reviewing the certifications it had granted SpaceX that allow to launch national security payloads. "Reusable version of their new Angara rocket would be great", Musk wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

More news: Knight Frank launches 2019 Wealth Report

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