SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule blasted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on schedule at 2:49 a.m. Saturday. But if the test goes smoothly, Nasa plans to put two astronauts on board SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule by the end of the year.
The dummy is named as Ripley, after Ellen Ripley from the Aliens movie.
The upgraded capsule includes brand new support systems, seats, control panels, and a propulsion system that can be used to keep the crew safe during a launch emergency.
The Falcon 9 rocket booster landed on a droneship in the Atlantic at about 3 a.m. Saturday, SpaceX said, making it the 35th successful landing of one of the company's rocket boosters.
The human-sized dummy is covered head to toe in sensors that will tell SpaceX engineers about what the experience travelling to and from the ISS will be like for human astronauts.
The Dragon capsule holding Ripley - which NASA calls an "anthropomorphic test device" - will launch atop SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket - the same rocket the company uses to launch supplies to the space station. This test flight without crew on board the spacecraft is meant to demonstrate SpaceX's capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
This article was originally published by Futurism. "This one will be a big step!" retired astronaut Scott Kelly, NASA's former one-year space station resident, tweeted Thursday. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just me, I think everybody within SpaceX feels this and wants to get this right". The insides of the spacecraft, while roomy, will look a bit different once NASA outfits it with whatever a crewed mission will require, but it's not hard to be impressed with the futuristic look sparkling clean aesthetic of Crew Dragon's cabin.
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SpaceX is hours away from a demo test flight of its new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts. NASA and SpaceX signed a $2.6 billion contract in September 2014 on completing the development of the Dragon v2 and certifying it for flights to the ISS.
Hans Koenigsmann, vice-president of SpaceX's build and flight reliability, said the company is happy to be playing a role in getting humans into space. Instead of solar wings, solar cells are on the spacecraft itself.
"I'm very comfortable with where we're headed with this flight".
"This flight test will inform the system design, operations and drive any changes that need to be made ahead of crew flights".
"This mission absolutely meets that standard with a creative and cost-effective mission to solve mysteries about Earth's upper atmosphere", said Hertz.
Musk anticipates eventually selling Dragon rides to private citizens, much as the Russians have done, first to the space station and then perhaps beyond.