The capsule was not crewed, the flight being the Dragon’s first launch and landing. Even so, Demo-1, as the mission is known, managed to set a number of firsts for the American space exploration efforts.
Crew Dragon was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft to take off from American soil and head for the ISS, carried by a commercially-built and operated rocket, the Falcon 9.
It is the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft to dock with the ISS. The Dragon linked with the station autonomously, being the first American spacecraft ever to do so in this manner.
When performing the link-up, the Crew Dragon made use for the first time of a new and standardized design for the adapters that connected it to the ISS.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who will be on board the same Crew Dragon later this year, for the first ever operational mission to the space station, said Demo-1 in itself was a premiere.
“For the first time, we’ve gotten to see an end-to-end test, and so now we’ve brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we’ve gotten to see how they all work together, and that’s very important as we move toward putting people onboard,” he said.
“I’m, personally, very anxious to hear how Ripley is feeling after they pull her out of the capsule and get her onto the recovery vehicle.”
The premieres achieved by the Crew Dragon will be repeated as soon as next month by the second commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft, the Boeing Starliner. The capsule will become the second in the American space fleet and will be followed in the years ahead by a third, NASA’s own, Orion.