Musk's SpaceX capsule set to splash down Friday after space station stop

ISS crew member and plush toy Earth continues work aboard the station

Earth hitting the treadmill with NASA astronaut Anne Mc Clain | Image credit NASA Anne McClain

The hatch of the capsule, which did not have a crew aboard, closed on Thursday at 12:39 p.m. EST.

While Crew Dragon will be recovered from the ocean this time, the spacecraft was designed with the ability to make powered landings using its four side-mounted "Super Draco" thrusters.

Once the Dragon reached a safe distance, NASA's Mission Control in Houston radioed its congratulations to SpaceX's team, the station's crew and partners around the world.

Crew members of International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 58 have continued to bring the unofficial DM-1 Crew Dragon "mascot" along as they complete station activities.

The space station's three-member crew greeted the capsule Sunday morning, with USA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon's cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections.

"We want to take a moment to recognize this milestone accomplishment that marks the inaugural mission of the commercial crew program", she said.

ISS Crew Member Earth Continues Work Aboard the Station 1
Earth making sure she is on schedule | Image credit NASA Anne McClain

In 2014, NASA awarded contracts worth a combined $6.8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing to build spacecraft capable of carrying NASA's astronauts to the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth.

Since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has been unable to fly its astronauts.

A spacesuit-wearing, sensor-laden mannequin nicknamed Ripley (in honor of Sigourney Weaver's character in the "Alien" sci-fi movies) rode in one of the Dragon's seats, to document what living, breathing astronauts would hear and feel.

After executing a docking maneuver, scientists unloaded 400 pounds of equipment and supplies. I think it's unlikely; we've run simulations a thousand times. The astronauts have been showing the Earth buddy around the space station. "He's going to welcome us aboard probably when we get there". For example, some tweaks may need to be made to the thruster system, and the parachute system still has to be fully certified for crewed flights.

What's at stake: While NASA hasn't reported any issues for the first part of Crew Dragon's test flight but the spacecraft must also do well through the descent.

A SpaceX rocket launched the 16-foot-tall capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Saturday. But if the splashdown is successful, SpaceX is not waiting very long to start flying humans into space. Provided it goes well, the first crewed mission of SpaceX's capsule will occur in July, featuring astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

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There are things in the past that bothered us from time to time, even in our performances that we would do", he added. Eventually, they all come together as a group and pose while an artist paints their portrait.

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