At 8:45 AM EST, SpaceX shuttle Crew Dragon landed in the Atlantic Ocean, just about 230 miles from the Florida coast.
The splash landing was the culmination of a successful journey lasting six days. The ship was designed to rendezvous with the International Space Station and head safely back to earth.
With the success of the mission, the spaceship will be cleared to carry astronauts in the future. The Crew Dragon’s success means that it is slated to become the first manned mission for NASA since July of 2011. Since 2011, American astronauts have been hitching rides into space aboard Russia’s Soyez rockets.
The Crew Dragon’s mission started with its launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on March 2nd. It met up with the ISS and remained linked to the space station for five days before returning to earth.
America Finally Returns to Space
Once all of the data has been collected and analyzed, the 14000-pound space shuttle will be cleared to carry a live crew. This mission carried only 400 pounds of cargo and a crash dummy. This mission was one of SpaceX’s most important, and it will help Americans return to space again.
Per NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, speaking to Science Insider about the importance of this mission, “This is a critically important event in American history. We’re on the precipice of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil again for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle.”
Boeing and SpaceX have contracts with NASA that authorize them to build rockets and be a part of the space agency’s continuing mission launches. Boeing received $4.2 billion for its CST-100 Starliner ship. SpaceX has received $2.6 billion for its contract.
NASA and SpaceX aren’t spending a lot of time celebrating their successful mission. It’s estimated that we could see a manned mission to and from the ISS as soon as July. Doug Hurley and Bob Nehnken, both from NASA, are expected to man the capsule at that time and launch into history.