SpaceX Launches First American Spacecraft for Astronauts since Space Shuttle

4 years ago Triangle 0

Written by: Mathäus Schwarzen, staff writer

American space launch company SpaceX successfully performed an unmanned test launch of their Crew Dragon capsule from the Kennedy Space Center on March 2. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the capsule blasted off at 2:49 a.m. (E.T.), and the capsule docked with the International Space Station at 5:51 a.m. the next day.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stressed that the capsule’s journey to NASA approval was not over yet: “We’re only part way through the mission, but the system thus far has passed an exhaustive set of reviews.”

The Crew Dragon capsule seen approaching from the ISS. Credit: NASA.

NASA hopes to use the capsule to cut down on their launch costs. The US has been paying Russia $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the ISS according to NASA. The cost of a filling one of the Dragon capsule’s seven seats will be just $52 million by comparison.

SpaceX has achieved these lower costs by recovering and reusing essential parts of their rockets.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain poses with the capsule’s unusual cargo. Credit: NASA.

SpaceX also showed its flair for drama with the launch. On board the Dragon capsule was a dummy named Ripley— a nod to the hero of the sci-fi film Alien.

The Dragon capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean exactly on time at 8:45 a.m. Eastern, March 8.


Mathäus Schwarzen is a die-hard Seattleite and a communication major at Bryan College. He enjoys movies, science and very deep conversations, and is very proud of his German heritage.