COMMERCIAL CREW SHIP FIRST
Commercial crew ships will be on their way to and from ISS (International Space Station) in the near future. This will free the United States from Russian rocket launch dependence.
On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.
COMMERCIAL UNMANNED CREW SHIP LEAVES ISS
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.
The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.
CREW DRAGON RETURNS SAMPLES
Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.
Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.
SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.
NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.
Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.
NASA TV COVERAGE OF CREW DRAGON RETURN TO EARTH
NASA provided live coverage of the return to Earth of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon after five days docked to the International Space Station.
Known as Demo-1, SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important uncrewed end-to-end flight test of the new system’s capabilities.
The spacecraft departed the space station at 2:32 a.m. EST and is on track for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Florida.
At approximately 7:48 a.m., Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk containing its solar array and radiator. Four minutes later, the spacecraft’s thrusters will initiate the deorbit burn at 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The nosecone will be closed before the spacecraft enters the atmosphere.
At about 8:41 a.m., drogue parachutes will deploy, and the four main chutes will begin to open less than a minute later to slow the Crew Dragon during its final descent prior to its water landing at about 8:45 a.m.
SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, to conclude its mission.
CREW DRAGON SPACESHIP UNDOCKS FROM ISS
At 2:32 a.m. EST, Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station to begin the final phase of its uncrewed Demo-1 flight test. The spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return it and its cargo safely to Earth.
NASA will continue to provide live coverage until Crew Dragon is out of the immediate area of the station and will resume at 7:30 a.m. for the reentry, splashdown, and recovery.
In about five hours, the Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk whose exterior contains a solar array that provided power to Dragon and a radiator to reject heat.
Following separation, Crew Dragon’s thrusters will initiate the spacecraft’s deorbit burn at about 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is expected to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at about 8:45 a.m., its speed slowed by an enhanced parachute system in which drogue parachutes will deploy about four minutes before landing to unfurl four main chutes less than a minute later.
After Crew Dragon lands in the Atlantic Ocean, SpaceX’s recovery ship will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida to conclude its mission.
SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important end-to-end to test of the new system’s capabilities.
MORE WAYS TO VIEW NASA AND ITS COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM
More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.
Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.
Written By: Norah Moran NASA
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