SpaceX's Dragon Crew capsule set for historic test

LIFT OFF California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket

The missile, named Crew Dragon, is on a test run and will possibly be used to send American astronauts to the International Space Station, perhaps as early as July. The only passenger was a life-size test dummy named Ripley. The robot is "fitted with sensors around the head, neck and spine to record everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission", Anna Heiney wrote in a NASA blog. It is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station Saturday morning.

Unlike Cargo Dragon, Crew Dragon will splash down via four parachutes in the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of Florida, whereas Cargo Dragon has always landed in the Pacific.

Despite SpaceX's success at recovering and reusing its rockets, NASA is insisting on brand new boosters from SpaceX for the crew capsule flights.

"We're going to have more access to space at a better cost than at any point in human history", said Bridenstine, adding he was "100 per cent confident" that a manned flight would happen by year's end.

In 2014, the USA space agency awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for them to take over this task.

Starliner spacecraft, which is being constructed by Boeing, is expected to perform an unmanned flight to the ISS in April, while a manned flight is slated for summer.

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The mission aims to test the vessel's reliability and safety in real-life conditions. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

Reuters reported on February 21 that SpaceX and Boeing both must address significant design and safety concerns before they can fly humans.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies.

During the rendezvous, Dragon went through numerous milestones, first coming into view at around 3,000 meters out, before approaching towards the Approach Elipsode and arrive at Waypoint 0.

"We instrumented the crap out of that vehicle", said Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA's Commercial Crew program.

The capsule won't carry humans in this test trip.

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Now NASA said it is on the verge of recapturing some of the national pride that has been a hallmark of its human spaceflight program since the beginning of the Space Age.

"We are ready to learn by flying".

SpaceX aced a key NASA review ahead of Saturday's launch.

Following the retirement of American shuttles, NASA paid companies such as SpaceX and Boeing about $8 billion to build and operate crew capsules to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

The space agency is turning to private taxi rides to reduce its pricey reliance on Russian rockets to get astronauts to and from the space station.

SpaceX rocket launches towards the International Space Station
The mission, called Demonstration-1 or DM-1, is meant to show NASA that Crew Dragon is safe for future human crew members. For SpaceX, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

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