The main goal of this launch is to demonstrate that SpaceX has developed a way to safely transport humans to the International Space Station, which would eventuate in Crew Dragon capsule carrying up to four NASA astronaut passengers. It was the first time a spacecraft has docked with the adapter since it was installed in August 2016.
A SpaceX rocket with an unmanned crew capsule blasted off on Saturday for the International Space Station, in a key milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from USA soil later this year.
Crew Dragon Capsule successfully docked to ISS.
The launch and docking were broadcast live on NASA TV. "Congratulations to all for this historic achievement getting us closer to flying American Astronauts on American rockets".
Our Stennis Space Center in MS conducted the latest in a series of tests with an RS-25 engine controller for use on a future flight of our new Space Launch System rocket, or SLS.
The two will be joined by NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch for the launch aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, NASA said.
The Crew Dragon capsule was launched early Saturday morning from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine: "What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight - an era where we are looking forward to being one customer as an agency and as a country, in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit".
No humans were aboard but the craft did carry a dummy nicknamed Ripley, named after the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films. Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems.
That successful docking happened on March 3. In a docking with a crew aboard, the capsule would likewise operate autonomously, though the astronauts might push a button or two and would be able to intervene if necessary.
NASA turned to private companies, SpaceX and Boeing, and has provided them $8 billion to build and operate crew capsules to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft unmanned test flight is scheduled for launch early Saturday morning. Musk continues and says "And I think it'd be pretty cool if people went to space station on an American vehicle as well". Both astronauts - Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken - were at SpaceX Mission Control in Southern California, observing all the action.
"Just super excited to see it", Behnken said minutes after the linkup. "Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here".
This marks the first time SpaceX has ever docked with ISS under its own power.
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