It's a wrap: SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean and concluded one of the most important missions to the International Space Station (ISS). It is expected to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida around 8:45 a.m. EST.
The splashdown is the final test for Crew Dragon, which has so far been successful in the flight test of the capsule that could become the first US craft to carry astronauts since the space shuttle program was phased out in 2011. America was going to space for the first time then; it's returning now.
The SpaceX project was undertaken together with the U.S. aerospace organization NASA, which now relies on the Russian space program and its Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to the ISS research facility.
The next best thing to a person was aboard the Crew Dragon however: a full-sized dummy in a SpaceX spacesuit - named Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien series - outfitted with sensors to record and report all of the physical experiences of the flight, including the hard slap as the bottom of the spacecraft hit the water.
An American spacecraft created to carry astronauts has successfully completed a six-day test mission.
For now, SpaceX wins the day - and continue to forge a path between the USA and the International Space Station. It remained docked with the station until Thursday, at which point the hatch was closed and locked and the capsule was readied for its return.
In this image taken from NASA Television, SpaceX's swanky new crew capsule, above, takes off after undocking from the International Space Station, right, Friday, March 8, 2019.
Demonstration Mission-1 (Demo-1) was an uncrewed flight test created to demonstrate a new commercial capability developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
The live view then switched to color cameras on SpaceX's recovery ship, the Go Searcher, which saw the drogue and main parachutes deploy successfully. A plush-toy version of Earth was also included as a zero-gravity mascot, along with 400 pounds of supplies. Provided it goes well, the first crewed mission of SpaceX's capsule will occur in July, featuring astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Saturday's launch and Sunday's docking were spot on. At 4:52 a.m. PT, the capsule's thrusters fired once more, starting a 15 minute "deorbit burn", slowing the craft down enough to fall back to Earth.
Next up is the first crewed flight for the Crew Dragon.
The mission has so far gone smoothly.
The three astronauts on board the ISS - American Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko - were able to get a first glimpse of the SpaceX capsule in microgravity while it was docked at the station this week.
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.