SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launches successfully
SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule embarked on its first test mission to the International Space Station.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket fires away from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center with the first space-bound Crew Dragon capsule.
Crew Dragon, designed from the beginning to be one of the safest human space vehicles ever built, benefits from the flight heritage of the current iteration of Dragon, which restored the United States’ capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo to and from the International Space Station. Dragon has completed 16 missions to and from the orbiting laboratory.
To support human spaceflight, Crew Dragon features an environmental control and life support system, which provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members. The spacecraft is equipped with a highly reliable launch escape system capable of carrying crew to safety at any point during ascent or in the unlikely event of an anomaly on the pad. While the crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary, Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the International Space Station. After undocking from the space station and reentering Earth’s atmosphere, Crew Dragon will use an enhanced parachute system to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
On this first test flight, Crew Dragon will transport roughly 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. In addition, the spacecraft will be carrying mass simulators and an anthropomorphic test device (ATD) that is fitted with sensors around the head, neck, and spine to gather data ahead of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission with NASA astronauts on board the spacecraft.
Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which has a long and storied history dating back to the 1960s. In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease for use of LC-39A. Since then, SpaceX has made significant upgrades to modernize the pad’s structures and ground systems, while also preserving its important heritage. Extensive modifications have been made to LC-39A, including removal of the existing rotating service structure and installation of a new access arm from which crew will board the spacecraft.