SpaceX capsule docks with space station in test mission

Elon Musk & NASA want to send civilians to the space station

The Crew Dragon craft launching from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida bound for the International Space Station.

"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 NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

NASA made a decision to retire the space shuttle program back in 2011, and American astronauts are tied to the schedule of the Russian Soyuz launches. If this test which has been titled "demo-1" is successful we could see two NASA astronauts make the trip sometime this summer.

Either SpaceX or Boeing will have bragging rights as the first private company to launch humans into orbit on its own rocket, although plans call for rockets built by both companies to carry astronauts into space.

SpaceX engineers and NASA have been working together under a $2.6 billion commerical-crew contract that could potentially be open to general populous space tourists as well.

SpaceX's Dragon crew capsule as it approached the International Sapce Station.

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The only passenger was a life-size test dummy, named Ripley after the lead character in the "Alien" movies.

Ripley and the capsule are rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses and monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems.

Several lasers and software helped dragon capsule to scan docking adapter, and it attached itself. Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and United States astronaut Anne McClain watched from the ISS, with the option to tell the capsule to hold, retreat, or even abort the process.

"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight", McClain said from inside Dragon.

The space station's three astronauts had front-row seats as the white 27-foot-long (8-meter-long) capsule neatly docked, a little early no less. America's newest capsule for astronauts rocketed Saturday toward the International Space Station on a high-stakes test flight by SpaceX. A full, secure docking was confirmed just a few minutes later. The Crew Dragon spacecraft unmanned test flight is scheduled for launch early Saturday morning. "Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here".

Boeing aims to conduct the first test flight of its Starliner capsule in April, with astronauts on board possibly in August. The version designed for humans is slightly bigger and safer. 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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