Elon Musk's SpaceX capsule splashes down off Florida coast

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft has successfully completed a 6-day mission to the International Space Station and back. The capsule, which deployed its parachutes to land in the water, was safely retrieved by SpaceX's Go Searcher recovery ship.

Once again, cameras aboard the International Space Station showed stunning views of Crew Dragon in space.

The mission, dubbed Demo-1, kicked off just under a week ago with the launch of the crew-capable Dragon capsule aboard a Falcon 9 booster, and subsequent docking the following day.

This final phase of the Demo-1 mission was perhaps the biggest test of Crew Dragon's new build. The educational stuffed toy will remain on the space station while it's ride returns to Earth.

Astronauts have not launched from Florida for eight years, and NASA is eager to end the drought and reduce its costly dependence on Russian Federation for space station trips.

"The vehicle really did better than we expected", Steve Stich, deputy Commercial Crew program manager for NASA, said shortly after the landing.

The splashdown was the final test on this mission for Crew Dragon, during a flight test for a capsule that could become the first US craft to carry astronauts into space since the shuttle program was phased out in 2011.

What made the reentry so ideal was that SpaceX gave a time of 8:45 a.m. EST as an estimate for when the vehicle would be back on the surface.

The first-of-its-kind mission, in advance of SpaceX's crewed test flight slated for June, brought some 180kg of test equipment to the space station, including a dummy named Ripley, outfitted with sensors around its head, neck and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.

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Returning to Earth is described as the toughest part of the mission.

The Crew Dragon's deorbit burn will be followed by a splashdown into the Atlantic Ocean, scheduled for approximately 8:45 a.m. EST Friday.

SpaceX has been delivering goods to the ISS for several years now with its cargo version of the spacecraft.

On March 2, SpaceX launched the first test flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively. That didn't happen, and the company proved the Crew Dragon is ready for the next step.

The mission went off without a hitch and is set to revolutionise NASA's future missions.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, in which it collaborates with private companies to develop new options for human space travel - and end USA reliance on Russian space vehicles to get astronauts into orbit.

"However, NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to validate the spacecraft's performance and prepare it to fly astronauts". I think it's unlikely; we've run simulations a thousand times. Following Saturday's launch, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said that he was "100 percent confident" crew would launch this year.

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