On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.
The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.
Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.
Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.
SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.
NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.
Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.
The last time the Shelton family sent Mission Control Center (MCC) a bouquet of roses was July 9, 2011, the day after the last U.S. space shuttle launched. That was the 110th bouquet from the family and the last U.S. human spaceflight. The Shelton’s continued their tradition Saturday when they sent their 111th bouquet to MCC celebrating the launch of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Ever since the Challenger accident, Mark and Terry Shelton have sent a vase of roses to Mission Control. The two live in the Dallas area and have no job connection to the space program. But they like to show their appreciation by including a rose for each crew member plus a single white one to represent astronauts who died in past accidents.
A Russian Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft undocked from the International Space Station today at 7:55 a.m. EST loaded with trash and discarded gear. It will orbit Earth a few more hours before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.
The Progress delivered three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station crew members on July 9. It was the first two-orbit rendezvous in International Space Station history.
Today’s departure leaves three spaceships attached to the orbital lab including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-11 crew ship. Cygnus is due to complete its mission when it departs from the station’s Unity module on Feb. 8.