Elon Musk's SpaceX takes major step towards reviving U.S. astronaut presence

SpaceX UNMANNED Crew Dragon V2 launched - Falcon 9 rocket leaves Kennedy Space Center | Daily Star

SpaceX launches unmanned capsule to space station

SpaceX launched its unmanned module from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7.48am GMT (2.48am EST).

The capsule successfully separated from the rocket about eleven minutes later, sparking cheers in the control room.

That triggered cheers at the firm's headquarters and at the Kennedy Space Center. It's expected to dock Sunday at the space station. It will remain docked until Friday, when it will disengage and head for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean 230 miles east of Cape Canaveral. It marks the 35th such recovery by SpaceX. "I proudly congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams for this major milestone in our nation's space history". That capsule called the CST-100 Starliner is set to launch in April without a crew and again with a crew in August.

"It's been a long eight years", said Bob Cabana, the Kennedy Space Center's director and a former astronaut.

Assuming everything goes well for Demo-1, the first Crew Dragon launch to carry actual humans into space could come as soon as summer 2019. NASA hasn't launched humans to space since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat. "You guys think it's a good vehicle, right?" he asked Behnken and Hurley, seated alongside him.

Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine said it was a new era where "we are looking forward to be being one customer, as an agency and as a country".

About 5,000 NASA and contractor employees, tourists and journalists gathered Saturday to watch the launch.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies.

NASA did not want to rely on just one single vehicle, in case of accidents.

SpaceX has made 16 space station deliveries over the past seven years.

That's the name of the space-suited dummy aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon that launched Saturday, a hat tip to Ellen Ripley, the heroine of the sci-fi movie series. Today, SpaceX launched a new Crew Dragon capsule to demonstrate their readiness for manned spaceflight.

Everything will have to function according to a strict plan: the separation of the capsule and the rocket, the 27 hours orbiting towards the space station and then docking with it. In 2014, as part of the "commercial crew" program, the agency awarded contracts worth a combined $6.8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing to develop spacecraft capable of flying up to four astronauts to the station at a time.

"We're going to be a customer", Bridenstine told reporters.

It has sent people into space aboard Russian rockets but has also been working with Elon Musk's SpaceX project.

"Every mission is important, but this is even more important, said Koenigsmann, the firm's vice-president for build and flight reliability". "Human spaceflight is a core value of business of SpaceX".

SpaceX aced a key NASA review ahead of Saturday's launch.

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