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SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down After Perfect Return to Earth

America is officially back in the space race, and it now has the capability to send astronauts to Earth’s orbit and beyond without the help of foreign space agencies. On March 8, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to the planet from the International Space Station, showing that bringing those astronauts back safely is also possible.
SpaceX Crew Dragon departing ISS 19 photos
Ripley dummy astronaut in the Crew Dragon during descentGo Searcher recovery vesselCrew Dragon reentry in infraredCrew Dragon reentry in infraredCrew Dragon reentry in infraredCrew Dragon parachute deploymentCrew Dragon parachute deploymentCrew Dragon parachute deploymentCrew Dragon parachute deploymentCrew Dragon parachute deploymentCrew Dragon splashdownCrew Dragon splashdownRecovery boats heading for the Crew DragonRecovery boats heading for the Crew DragonCrew Dragon departing ISSCrew Dragon departing ISSCrew Dragon departing ISSCrew Dragon on board the Go Searcher recovery vessel
Already hailed as an “American achievement” and a “historical moment,” the return of the Crew Dragon began with the undocking and departure from the International Space Station (ISS), which unfolded over a period of several hours.

All of the steps taken to depart the ISS safely were handled autonomously by the Crew Dragon, with supervision from astronauts on board the station and mission specialists on the ground.

Hours after the capsule departed ISS, it closed its nose cone and began its descent into the atmosphere. After several minutes of silence, the capsule was captured on cameras deployed to track its descent.

As soon as the required height was reached, the Dragon deployed its parachutes and began a slow descent towards the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

There, the ship was greeted by the crew of the Go Searcher recovery vessel, which began operations to bring the capsule onboard the ship and return it to land.

At the time of this writing, the recovery is ongoing and is broadcasted live on NASA television.

As soon as the Dragon can be opened, NASA and SpaceX will asses how good the mission really went. If satisfied with the result, a crewed launch is to follow later this year.

Next month, America’s second private spaceship, Boeing’s Starliner, is scheduled to launch and offer similar performance to the Dragon. If all goes well, after several years of hitching rides to space in Russian capsules, the U.S. will have not one, but two crew-capable space vehicles. 


 
 
 
 
 

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