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'Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed!'

March 8, 2019

"Crew Dragon," the new space capsule built by private firm SpaceX, has splashed down successfully in the Atlantic Ocean. The capsule is designed to transport astronauts to the ISS.

Parachutes brought the SpaceX Dragon safely to the sea touchdown
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/NASA

The Crew Dragon space capsule on Friday successfully concluded a six-day test mission to the International Space Station, splashing down near Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the US state of Florida at 1345 UTC (8:45 a.m. Eastern time). "Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed!" the SpaceX team announced.

Parachutes were deployed to slow the capsule's descent into the sea. 

The '"Demo-1" was the first private mission to the ISS, and the first time a space vessel capable of carrying humans had been launched from US soil in eight years.

The splashdown had been seen as the most difficult part of the trip, with the capsule passing quickly through Earth's atmosphere engulfed in flames before having its descent slowed by parachutes.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine hailed the capsule's return to Earth, saying it "marked another milestone in a new era of human spaceflight."

The head of Roskosmos, Russia's space agency, also congratulated his "dear colleagues," Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Former US President Barack Obama praised "the successful return" of the capsule on Twitter, adding that his administration was the first to launch the commercialization of astronaut transportation to space.

Ripley in the space capsule
Test dummy Ripley's trip back to Earth went without a hitchImage: picture-alliance/Newscom/UPI Photo/SpaceX

Crewed mission to come

The capsule, which reached the ISS on Sunday, undocked from the station at 0732 UTC Friday while over Sudan.

The flight, whose only passenger was a test dummy called Ripley, was a test ahead of a mission with a crew on board.

Scheduled for July, SpaceX mission Demo-2 plans to carry the company's first two NASA astronauts.

The SpaceX project was undertaken together with the US aerospace organization NASA, which currently relies on the Russian space program and its Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to the ISS research facility.

The company was founded in 2002 by South African entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and working toward colonizing Mars.

Read more: 2018: Highlights in Space 

tj,jm/sms (AFP, dpa)

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