First Manned Crew Dragon Flight To ISS Set For July

Crew Dragon Capsule

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon took off at 2:49 a.m. EST on March 2 from Kennedy. This test flight without crew on board the spacecraft is meant to demonstrate SpaceX's capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The Crew Dragon successfully docked with the ISS and, after a little bit of preparation, the astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory opened the door and floated inside. The test dummy - or Smarty as SpaceX likes to call it, given all the instrumentation - is named Ripley after the lead character in the science-fiction "Alien" films. (NASA TV via AP) In this image taken from NASA Television, Sunday, March 3, 2019, a live screen shows docking scene of SpaceX's new crew capsule and the International Space Station Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Last week, upon completing its pre-launch reviews, NASA estimated that if the demonstration flight went well we could see crewed flights within a few months.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques pronounced the docking flawless and called it "a lovely thing to see".

Flight operations team members - some of them new to this - also need the six-day trial run, according to Kennedy Space Center's director, Robert Cabana.

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This is the phase of the mission that SpaceX founder Elon Musk says worries him the most: the high-speed descent back to Earth.

Bridenstine said it's only a matter of time before astronauts are being carried into space aboard Dragons or Starliners. There was an opportunity that the Crew Dragon, which Russian area operators warned didn't have a backup docking system, would fail to efficiently connect to the station.

Capsule docked with International Space Station on Sunday at 5:51 AM ET on International docking Adapter. According to the US Government Accountability Office, the U.S has relied on Russian Federation to take its astronauts to and from the International Space Station with a price tag of 82 million per seat since the retirement of the Shuttle Program.

While most of us were asleep, SpaceX wrote history. Crew Dragon is set to remain in orbit attached to the ISS until early Friday morning.

This was the first time a SpaceX capsule had attempted to attach itself to the station. 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.

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