Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launches spacecraft designed for astronauts — Crew Dragon

SpaceX Crew Dragon

SpaceX Crew Dragon

Though Demo-1 is astronaut-free, Crew Dragon is carrying one lifeless - but lifelike - passenger, a dummy outfitted with a variety of sensors so scientists can measure the forces exerted on the body during the mission. SpaceX has been developing Crew Dragon under a $2.6 billion commercial-crew contract with NASA, after all.

The plan calls for the capsule to dock with the International Space Station on Sunday morning.

SpaceX's first crewed mission, which will fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, could happen by July, according to NASA's most recent schedule. It follows an eight-year lapse from the last flight of the Space Shuttle during which America has bought seats on Russian Soyuz rockets for crew trips to the station. "We're going to learn a ton from this mission". - The United States space program took a significant step toward returning human spaceflight to American soil after a SpaceX rocket successfully blasted off from a historic launch pad here early Saturday.

"And I think it'd be pretty cool if people went to space station on an American vehicle as well", Musk added. That's the main reason he founded SpaceX in 2002, the billionaire entrepreneur has said repeatedly over the years - to help humanity become a multiplanet species.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 2:49 a.m. Saturday from pad 39A here, the same launch pad that hoisted Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and numerous space shuttle missions as well. The SpaceX company employees cheered until the capsule reached orbit.

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. Dragon 1 and attach it to the space station. While Falcon 9's have completed many successful lift-offs, today's was special because it is the first outing for SpaceX's new Crew Dragon module, created to take astronauts into orbit.

Now NASA said it is on the verge of recapturing some of the national pride that has been a hallmark of its human spaceflight program since the beginning of the Space Age. "It's done. Now we're in a position where we can take our time and make sure we get it right".

While NASA has continued to fly probes and robots into deep space, and has even landed on Mars, the inability to fly humans has remained an embarrassment for an agency that beat the Soviet Union in the Cold War space race to the moon. Musk said the redesigned capsule has "hardly a part in common" with its predecessor. 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.

The docking port itself is new and has never been used. "And then re-entry", Musk said at a press conference, held in the Kennedy Space Center, when asked which stages of the Dragon 2 mission he anxious about most.

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