Published: Sun, March 03, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

SpaceX rocket with unmanned United States capsule blasts off for space station

SpaceX rocket with unmanned United States capsule blasts off for space station

The excitement level was high because SpaceX and NASA understand the significance of this test for crew flights-success here will allow astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to launch into space later this year or early in 2020 on a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The Crew Dragon launched lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 7.49 am GMT, (2.49am EST).

Known as Demo-1, SpaceX's inaugural flight with NASA's Commercial Crew Program is considered a important uncrewed mission created to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system.

After the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011, NASA turned for the first time to the private sector to build the next generation of human spaceflight hardware. Today, SpaceX launched a new Crew Dragon capsule to demonstrate their readiness for manned spaceflight. The capsule will then spend five days docked to the orbiting outpost and then return to Earth on Friday, landing in the Atlantic. Hitching a ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket costs roughly $80 million per seat, compared to the $51 million cost to fly on a SpaceX or Boeing vehicle.

SpaceX has successfully launched an unmanned crew capsule named Crew Dragon into orbit around the Earth.

Highlights from the SpaceX's historic Demo-1 Crew Dragon Test Flight from Kennedy Space Center.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 2:49 a.m. Saturday from pad 39A here, the same launch pad that hoisted Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and numerous space shuttle missions as well. "And then re-entry", Musk said at a press conference, held in the Kennedy Space Center, when asked which stages of the Dragon 2 mission he anxious about most. NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

It's an unmanned test flight created to demonstrate the potential for carrying astronauts into orbit. "Right now, the date is July and that's what we're planning for, but if we change that date we'll make sure people know when it's the right time".

Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching USA astronauts on US rockets from US soil.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems to low-Earth orbit.

"Previously, we would go close to the space station, and an [ISS robotic] arm would reach out and grab..."

Looking even farther out, "maybe there's something beyond space station", he said. Provided this demo mission proceeds as planned, the Crew Dragon will have to demonstrate its safety in one more "in-flight abort test", scheduled for later this year.

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