SpaceX Crew Dragon could be the next space shuttle for future US space missions.
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The Crew Dragon spacecraft that was launched by SpaceX on March 2 successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday early in the morning, thereby delivering its dummy crew member “Ripley” on board and marking a major milestone in American space history. The demonstration showed that Crew Dragon was able to reach space safely and dock with the ISS autonomously. It also proved as a potential means of ferrying astronauts to space in future US space missions. US has been relying on Russian spacecrafts ever since it retired its space shuttles in 2011.
Once the spacecraft docked with the ISS without the assistance of a robotic arm, astronauts aboard the space station ran a list of tests before entering the new spacecraft. They then brought the new dummy astronaut on board with a welcome selfie. Ripley was sent from Earth wearing the new SpaceX space suit that’s under test. SpaceX’s space suit is a custom suit designed to protect its wearer from rapid cabin depressurisation. The one fitted on Ripley was covered in sensors for data collection.
According to a recent report by Space.com, Crew Dragon will remain attached to the ISS for a period of five days before returning to Earth using a parachute-enabled splashdown in Atlantic Ocean. Unlike its cargo-carrying counterpart Cargo Dragon, Crew Dragon needed no robotic arm to help it dock with the ISS. The uncrewed spacecraft parked itself using a new docking system called the International Docking Adapter. Roscosmos, which operates the ISS along with the US, was initially apprehensive about the new docking procedure but approved the Crew Dragon’s dock two days before its launch from Earth.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated SpaceX and NASA on the new Crew Dragon trial in a tweet. “This first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership is a revolutionary step on our path to get humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” he wrote in his congratulatory message, while Roscosmos tweeted, “Roscosmos sends its sincere compliments to the colleagues from @NASA in connection with the successful trial docking of the new spacecraft.”
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