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Crew Dragon Makes a 'Splashdown' Not Seen in 50 Years

SpaceX capsule safely lands in Atlantic Ocean after test flight to ISS
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2019 8:46 AM CST

(Newser) – After the "high-stakes" launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon on Saturday, Elon Musk said he was emotionally spent. The SpaceX CEO can now breathe a little easier, after what Time calls a "near-perfect flight" ended with the capsule landing safely Friday morning in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off the coast of Florida. (Watch the capsule, attached to four parachutes, touch down in the water here.) The flight from the International Space Station took about six hours, the AP reports. Per NPR, NASA says we haven't seen such an Atlantic "splashdown" of a craft designed for humans in nearly a half-century, when Apollo 9 came back to Earth on March 13, 1969.

The Verge reports there was one especially notable achievement for SpaceX during this test flight: The unmanned Crew Dragon managed to dock itself to an exterior ISS port, a move the company had never done before, and one that's needed if SpaceX eventually ferries people to the space station. There was one "witness" on board the capsule: a "smart" test dummy named Ripley, which was built to measure how the human body would be affected. This was the first test flight for the Crew Dragon, which will be retrieved from the ocean by a SpaceX recovery vessel. (Meanwhile, Musk's security clearance is getting a second look over his pot use.)

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