SpaceX's Crew Dragon becomes first American spacecraft to dock autonomously with the International Space Station
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., - SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon craft early Saturday morning from NASA's Kennedy Space Center to demonstrate capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight was completed without crew on board.
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. It carried approximately 400 pounds of supplies and equipment to the ISS.
To support human spaceflight, Crew Dragon features an environmental control and life support system. The spacecraft is equipped with a reliable launch escape system capable of carrying crew to safety at any point during ascent or in the event of an anomaly on the pad.
While the crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary, Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the International Space Station. After undocking from the space station and reentering Earth’s atmosphere, Crew Dragon will use an enhanced parachute system to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with the International Space Station on Friday, March 8 at approximately 2:30 a.m. EST. About five hours after Dragon departs the space station, it will conduct its deorbit burn, which is expected to last approximately 15 minutes. The craft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 35 to 40 minutes later, or at approximately 8:45 a.m. EST.
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