Ho-Hum. More Boring Success for SpaceX as Crew Dragon Splashes Down

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday after undocking from the International Space Station, appearing to successfully complete the first mission of the vehicle the company created to fly humans.

A pair of recovery ships was stationed in the Atlantic well before splashdown and quickly moved in, lifting the capsule from the water within an hour. During the docking of the Crew Dragon to the ISS, Roscosmos instructed cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko to remain in the Russian arm of the space station. SpaceX plans to launch its first crewed test flight in July with American astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

"The uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 mission has one final milestone and that is the safe return to Earth", NASA wrote in an update.

The spacecraft was launched on the night of March 1-2 and spent several days docked to the space station.

SpaceX's recovery ship headed out to pull the Dragon onto its "nest" and bring it back to shore for inspection.

NASA's Bridenstine considers privately built and operated spacecraft the way to go when it comes to rides to the space station.

The splashdown is the final test for Crew Dragon, which has so far been successful in the flight test of the capsule that could become the first USA craft to carry astronauts since the space shuttle program was phased out in 2011. Crew Dragon will serve as an astronaut taxi, ferrying people to and from the orbital space station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft docked with the ISS on Sunday 3 March carrying supplies, a dummy in a SpaceX flight suit and the Earth plush toy.

Boeing's Starliner crew capsule is poised to launch its maiden unmanned mission in April ahead of an August test flight carrying USA astronauts Michael Fincke, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann.

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft settles to a gentle splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral to wrap up a successful test flight, March 8, 2019. SpaceX - which has been delivering station cargo for years - is shooting for summer.

"Just unbelievable. I can't believe how well the whole mission has gone" with all major milestones met, said Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management.

On the Crew Dragon, he noted, "the windows will be down near our feet on this vehicle".

Space station astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets since NASA's shuttles retired eight years ago. Musk said, "That could potentially cause a roll instability on re-entry".

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.

Despite the distractions, Friday's landing appeared to be another triumph for SpaceX, and validation of years of work. But he said he thought it was "unlikely" since the company had run "simulations a thousand times".

The nose cone of the Crew Dragon was closed once the burn completed, unlike the cargo version, which jettisons its own covering during launch.

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