SpaceX rocket with unmanned US capsule blasts off for space station

SpaceX rocket with unmanned US capsule blasts off for space station

SpaceX rocket with unmanned US capsule blasts off for space station

The Space X Crew Dragon capsule lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX beamed live views of the capsule's interior, as station crew welcomed the Demo-1 test dummy astronaut Ripley, a lifelike test device outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon, and a Celestial Buddies Earth plush toy.

The Crew Dragon is created to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8.

Though NASA and SpaceX were confident it would go seamlessly, it was a reminder that "there's always human life at risk", Patrick Forrester, chief of NASA's astronaut office at Johnson Space Center, said last week. That's the part of the uncrewed test run that concerns SpaceX CEO Elon Musk the most, the BBC wrote.

"Just super excited to see it", Behnken said minutes after the linkup.

California's SpaceX firm is performing a demonstration of a new rocket and capsule combination, which, if it works well, will be approved to carry people.

The spacecraft is created to carry up to seven passengers to the space station, but for this flight, the capsule is loaded up with 450 pounds of cargo and a test dummy outfitted in one of SpaceX's customised spacesuits.

MARTIN: But if all goes according to plan, Bridenstine says this is the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight.

The launch is the first stage of a several-days-long test of the crew capsule that SpaceX calls Demo-1 and will be a dress rehearsal for the historic manned test flight of the Dragon Capsule to take place this Summer. Astronauts in the US have been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets since NASA's fleet was retired in 2011, but those seats are costly.

Astronauts aboard the ISS will be watching closely on HD cameras to make sure the capsule performs as it should, and be ready to intervene if it does not.

The mission was supported by NASA and culminated in the Dragon automatically attaching itself to the space station, almost 260 miles above the Pacific ocean, north of the New Zealand coast.

It can carry as many as seven people and has three windows, emergency-abort engines that can pull the capsule to safety, and streamlined controls, with just 30 buttons and touch screens, compared with the space shuttle cockpit's 2,000 switches and circuit breakers.

"As a country, we're looking forward to being one customer of many customers, in a robust commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit, so that we can drive down costs and increase access in ways that historically have not been possible", he said Saturday following Dragon's launch.

"This flight test will inform the system design, operations and drive any changes that need to be made ahead of crew flights".

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