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

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

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

Elon Musk, the CEO of US SpaceX aerospace company, said on Friday, after the launch of the SpaceX-manufactured Dragon 2 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), that, of all the other stages of the mission, he was most of all anxious about Dragon 2's docking with the ISS and its return to Earth.

The capsule from the California company founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk didn't include actual crew members - except for a life-size dummy named Ripley, who was named after the lead character in the "Alien" movies. Today, SpaceX launched a new Crew Dragon capsule to demonstrate their readiness for manned spaceflight.

The Dragon should reach the space station Sunday.

"It's been a long eight years", the Kennedy Space Center's director Bob Cabana, a former astronaut himself, said as SpaceX employees milled around the rocket.

Although SpaceX has been flying a cargo-based version of the Dragon to the station since 2012, the new Dragon has been entirely remade for crew. The more immediate goal is to avoid harming the space station and its three occupants: an American, Canadian and Russian.

If the trip goes off without a hitch and all goes to plan with a subsequent emergency escape test, SpaceX will begin transporting astronauts to the ISS later this year.

The site of the landmark launch was Pad 39A, which has previously seen NASA's Saturn rockets carry astronauts to the moon aboard Apollo spacecraft and the famous launches of NASA's space shuttles.

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

The uncrewed flight, or Demo-1 mission, will provide SpaceX the chance to prove its spacecraft is safe, reliable and ready to carry live astronauts.

He said: "That is something we have to practise in preparation for crewed flight to make sure we're fast in the right spots, and have all the potential medical attention at the right time".

The Falcon 9 blasts off, carrying Crew Dragon for the first time. "We've got to dock to the space station and come back".

The launch marks the first under NASA's commercial crew program.

Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching USA astronauts on US rockets from USA soil. But he stressed it was more important to move deliberately so "we get it right".

"We're only partway through the mission", Musk said.

"We're going to take it day by day", Bridenstine said of the timeline.

Saturday's flight "is the next critical step in putting people on Dragon", he said.

At the press conference, Musk asked the two NASA astronauts slated to fly in Dragon: "You guys think it's a good vehicle?"

While the Dragon spacecraft launched successfully Saturday, the mission still has several significant hurdles to clear. "That would be pretty cool, " he said.

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