First Flight of the Commercial Crew Era Builds on Earlier Successes

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft became the first Commercial Crew vehicle to visit the International Space Station in March 2019 during NASA's SpaceX Demo-1 mission. Here it is pictured on March 3, 2019, with its nose cone open to reveal its docking mechanism while approaching the station's Harmony module.
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft became the first Commercial Crew vehicle to visit the International Space Station in March 2019 during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-1 mission. Here it is pictured on March 3, 2019, with its nose cone open to reveal its docking mechanism while approaching the station’s Harmony module. Photo credit: NASA
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is guided by four parachutes toward the Atlantic Ocean on March 8, 2019, after returning from the International Space Station on NASA's SpaceX Demo-1 mission.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is guided by four parachutes toward the Atlantic Ocean on March 8, 2019, after returning from the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-1 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

The SpaceX Demo-1 mission in March 2019 was the spacecraft’s first flight test. During that uncrewed mission, the fully autonomous Crew Dragon launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, rendezvoused and docked with the orbiting laboratory, undocked several days later and returned to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

Throughout the flight, the spacecraft’s performance and capabilities were monitored from the ground, while an anthropomorphic test device nicknamed “Ripley” rode inside the Crew Dragon as a “passenger.” Ripley was fitted with sensors around the head, neck and spine to record everything an astronaut would experience throughout the mission, such as the forces, acceleration, protection offered by Crew Dragon’s seats, and overall environment.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: SpaceX

Demo-2 raises the stakes, taking Demo-1 a critical step further with the addition of a crew: veteran astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

This mission will serve as an end-to-end flight test to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, from launch to docking to splashdown. It is the final flight test for the system to be certified for regular, crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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