SpaceX successfully completed the demo launch of its spacecraft, ‘Crew Dragon’, marking a new era in space transportation. The spacecraft was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and contained a test dummy and a very high-tech zero-g indicator.
This flight is the final test check for the spacecraft. The test includes a launch, docking with the ISS, and reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere for recovery. It is scheduled to dock with the international space station on Sunday, to test the systems and operations required to allow human transport, for five days.
Today’s successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator, in a tweet posted minutes after the launch. He also called it “a major milestone in our nation’s history”.
The approval for the launch was given earlier this week by NASA, as they attempt to distance themselves from the use of Russian capsules to send their astronauts to the International Space Station. A successful test run would allow NASA to smoothly transition into the use of SpaceX spacecrafts in the immediate future.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, went to great lengths to appreciate the role of NASA in the rise of SpaceX.
“It’s been 17 years to get to this point, from 2002 until now, an incredible amount of hard work and sacrifice from a lot of people to have gotten to this point. I’d also like to express great appreciation for NASA. SpaceX wouldn’t be here without NASA, without the incredible work that was done before SpaceX even started and without the support after SpaceX did start.”
A successful demo would pave the way for two further launches, an high-altitude abort test, and the transportation of two astronauts to the ISS. Both launches are expected to take place in June and July respectively.
The two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken, who will crew the scheduled manned mission, watched the launch from the SpaceX control room three miles from the launchpad.