SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Crew Capsule

NASA will be flown into space by an American company for the first time in years. This follows after SpaceX confirmed they’d completed their final test for the Dragon Crew Capsule, which is slated to take NASA astronauts to the space station in summer. January 19th marked the date that SpaceX would launch from Cape Canaveral, which had been delayed multiple times throughout the day before starting in mid-afternoon. Two mannequins took the seat in the capsule, which flew for nine minutes. The Dragon capsule parachuted safely into the Atlantic Ocean after separating from its sister rocket.

The United States of America hasn’t seen astronauts leave they’re under the guidance of NASA since 2011. Estimations rank that the first official launch of the Dragon Crew Capsule could come by April 2020. However, there are many that speculate delays will prompt a June launch date for NASA. This test saw the Falcon Nine Rocket launch towards space, reaching twelve miles above the Atlantic before the capsule exploded from the top. Thrusters propelled the capsule away from the Falcon Nine, with the rocket’s engines immediately being shut down to avoid disturbances. Boosters plummeted from the Falcon Nine after the shutdown sequence, where they then exploded mid-air.

After being thrown from the Falcon Nine and receiving the bonus of thrusters, the Dragon Capsule reached an altitude of twenty-seven miles. This was before its descent towards the Atlantic ocean, where the parachute deployed five miles above the waters. This marks the 1st capsule test during overcast skies and unsatisfactory sea conditions. Its testament towards the capabilities displayed by SpaceX.

NASA’s Vision

The Commercial Crew Program Manager at NASA, Kathy Lueders, spoke on the abort capsule test. She expressed that this was the last milestone during testing for SpaceX and NASA, showing the national space agency that this private company could save the lives of astronauts in worst-case scenarios. This is why the Falcon Nine was purposely destroyed in the Atlantic Ocean, with the rocket previously landing upright three times before this test. Next in this scheduled partnership is astronaut testing, which could take weeks or months. After astronauts have been trained, the length of this mission and its launch date will be provided.

This final testing phase for SpaceX saw three agencies come together in a collective project. It also saw thousands of tourists and locals at Cape Canaveral watch this exciting test. It’s the 1st time that members of the US Airforce, NASA and SpaceX participated in the same project.