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SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft Expected To Land on Earth on Monday

The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to reach Earth on Monday.

After spending over a month in the orbit, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft left the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday and is expected to land on Earth on Monday night, NASA said.

“The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was released from the ISS today at 6.33 p.m.,” NASA said in a statement on Sunday.

“Dragon will parachute to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Monday at 12:15 a.m. then will be towed to port in southern California by a SpaceX personnel,” it added.

This will be the first night–time splashdown and recovery for the Dragon with plenty of moonlight to track its entry, NASA said.

Astronaut Anne McClain onboard the ISS monitored the activities from the cupola and watched Dragon perform a series of departure burns as it separated itself to a safe distance from the orbital lab. Integrated operations between mission controllers in Houston and SpaceX controllers in California stop when Dragon reaches a point about 1 km away from the station.

SpaceX
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. VOA

The commercial cargo vessel will bring home a variety of critical space research, including ISS hardware to extracted for analysis, refurbishment or discarding, NASA said.

Dragon was launched on ISS on December 8 with more than 5,600 pounds of science and supplies. The spacecraft completed a 36-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module.

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The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1.

The Commercial Crew Program’s first launch is currently targeted for February and will demonstrate ground systems, orbit to docking activities and landing operations. (IANS)

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SpaceX Plans To Send NASA Astronauts To Space in Q2 This Year

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff

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NASA
It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point. Pixabay

After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year.

This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, the US space agency said in a statement on Sunday.

With this test now complete, the next big flight of the Crew Dragon will have people on board: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“We’re highly confident that the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely at the end of February but no later than March. And we think it appears probable that the first crewed launch would occur in the second quarter,” said Musk after the successful uncrewed test of its Crew Dragon capsule’s in-flight launch escape capabilities.

Musk said that if all goes well, the first crewed flight on the Crew Dragon could take place in the second quarter of this year.

“This critical flight test puts us on the cusp of returning the capability to launch astronauts in American spacecraft on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are thrilled with the progress NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon.”

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff. All major functions were executed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down at 10:38 am just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

“As far as we can tell thus far, it’s a picture perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect,” said Musk. “This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the SpaceX and NASA teams to achieve this goal. Obviously, I’m super fired up. This is great.”

NASA
After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year. Wikimedia Commons

Prior to the flight test, teams completed launch day procedures for the first crewed flight test, from suit-up to launch pad operations. The joint teams now will begin the full data reviews that need to be completed prior to NASA astronauts flying the system during SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission. “The past few days have been an incredible experience for us,” said astronaut Doug Hurley.

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“Today, we watched the demonstration of a system that we hope to never use, but can save lives if we ever do. It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point, and we can’t wait to take a ride to the space station soon,” he said in the NASA statement. (IANS)