SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch and ISS Docking in Pictures

On Saturday, humanity’s first commercially designed and operated crew-capable spaceship took off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One day later, it autonomously mated with the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX Crew Dragon on the pad before launch 16 photos
Photo: NASA
Crew Dragon on the launch padCrowd witnessing Crew Dragon's launchCrew Dragon docking with the ISSRIpley dummy inside Crew DragonCrew Dragon approaching ISSCrew Dragon approaching ISSCrew Dragon approaching ISSShadow of Crew Dragon approaching ISSCrew Dragon takeoffCrew Dragon mid-flightCrew Dragon mid-flightCrew Dragon takeoffCrew Dragon takeoffFalcon 9 booster landing after takeoffCrew Dragon approaching ISS
The launch and subsequent docking with the ISS mark the first steps to the return of the U.S. to the frontlines of space exploration for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles.

“Today’s successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“I proudly congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams for this major milestone in our nation’s space history. This first launch of a space system designed for humans, and built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, is a revolutionary step on our path to get humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

This first test, known as Demo-1, went perfectly. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon took off at 2:49 a.m. EST on March 2 from Kennedy.

After stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage came down to land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It was SpaceX’s 35th successful landing of a rocket booster since its program began.

At the same time, the Crew Dragon spaceship continued its ascent towards low—Earth orbit and the ISS. On March 3rd, the Dragon autonomously docked with the ISS, not requiring the aid of the station’s robotic arm.

On its maiden flight, the Crew Dragon carried 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment, as well as a test dummy astronaut called Ripley.

The spaceship is scheduled to undock and return to Earth on March 8, bringing back with it research samples. The re-entry is the moment NASA, SpaceX and Elon Musk are most nervous about.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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