Musk's SpaceX capsule splashes down in ocean

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The flight, called Demo-1, was launched on March 2nd and spent five days at the International Space Station (ISS). Six hours later, the capsule carrying a test dummy plopped into the Atlantic off the Florida coast.

The Atlantic Ocean landing is the first in almost 50 years for a capsule that was designed for humans, NASA says. Apollo 9 splashed down near the Bahamas on March 13, 1969.

The Commercial Crew Program is the end result of a series of NASA-funded industry competitions in the wake of the shuttle's retirement to develop a new American spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

As part of the validation process, SpaceX and NASA will conduct an in-flight abort test, launching the Crew Dragon on top of a modified Falcon 9 rocket and then terminating the rocket engine as it reaches the point of max q - when pressure on the spacecraft is at its greatest. For the Demo-1 test flight, the Crew Dragon transported a sensor-packed dummy named Ripley and some supplies to the ISS.

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.

The crew of the GO Searcher, a SpaceX ship rigged to recover returning crew capsules, planned to haul the spacecraft aboard and return it to Port Canaveral for detailed post-flight inspections.

She added that she and the rest of the panel were pleased that NASA was taking steps, such as buying two additional Soyuz seats from Roscosmos, to alleviate any perceived schedule pressure on the commercial crew program. Historic aerospace company Boeing are also readying to fly to the ISS with their own capsule, dubbed "Starliner", in the coming months. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon's adapters used the new worldwide docking standard.

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In this image taken from NASA Television, SpaceX's swanky new crew capsule undocks from the International Space Station Friday, March 8, 2019.

Also aboard Crew Dragon was a "zero-g indicator", or a plush globe otherwise known as Little Earth, that was put on board to demonstrate when Crew Dragon entered microgravity. The entry was a concern, he said, because the spacecraft's shape is not as symmetrical as the version used to carry cargo to the station.

Should that mission go well, the next flight of the Crew Dragon will include humans.

"This really is an American achievement that spans many generations of NASA administrators and over a decade of work by the NASA team", current Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the splash-down.

But like the launch, the docking went off without a hitch, and soon the three astronauts on board the station - Nasa's Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federation, and Canada's David Saint-Jacques - were able to check out the first commercial space vehicle designed for human space flight ever to dock with the station.

NASA awarded the first contracts in 2014 to SpaceX and Boeing, now totalling about $8 billion.

The last generation of United States spacecraft, the Space shuttles, landed like airplanes, and two of the four original shuttles had catastrophic accidents that killed 14 crew members.

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