‘Astronaut’ dummy Ripley rides aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon bound for space station

‘Astronaut’ dummy Ripley rides aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon bound for space station

"It's exciting to see a crewed vehicle, the SpaceX Dragon, up there on a Falcon 9 on pad 39A", said Cabana, who witnessed the last space shuttle flight return to Cape Canaveral on July 21, 2011.

If all goes to plan, this will be a huge milestone in the journey towards commercial space travel.

Dragon will remain at the space station until Friday, when it will undock for an old-school, "Right Stuff"-style splashdown in the Atlantic, a few hundred miles off Florida".

There was a chance that the Crew Dragon, which Russian space operators warned did not have a backup docking system, would fail to successfully attach to the station.

Cargo versions of the Dragon have flown to the station 16 times since 2012, but the Crew Dragon represents a significant upgrade.

The docking of the capsule, which has only a dummy on board, was concluded at 1051 GMT, almost 250 miles (400 kilometers) over the surface of the Earth, NASA and SpaceX confirmed during a live broadcast of the mission.

In order to certify Crew Dragon to carry humans, NASA and SpaceX will complete a series of four test flights, of which Demo-1 is the second.

Chris Ferguson, commander of the final shuttle flight and now a Boeing executive, will join two other NASA astronauts aboard the Starliner for the company's first piloted launch this fall. The US space shuttle program ended in 2011, and NASA has paid Russian Federation about $80 million per seat to send American astronauts to space aboard Soyuz rockets.

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"There is nothing more important for us than this endeavour, and we really appreciate the opportunity from Nasa to do this".

Behnken said that's the way it should work when he and Hurley are on board; they may push a button or two and will have the ability to intervene, if necessary.

SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, cheered and applauded as crew Dragon pulled up and docked at the orbiting lab, almost 260 miles (400 kilometres) above the Pacific, north of New Zealand.

The successful maneuver was also greeted with cheers from the Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters of Elon Musk's ambitious space company.

It's a test flight without crew aboard, created to demonstrate the potential for carrying astronauts into orbit on a commercial spacecraft.

This includes demonstrating the on-orbit operation of avionics, communications, telemetry, life support, electrical, and propulsion systems, as well as the guidance, navigation, control (GNC) systems aboard both Falcon 9 and Dragon.

If the programme continues to go to plan, SpaceX and NASA plan to send humans back into space from the United States later this year.

The launch systems are aimed at ending U.S. reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the $100 billion orbital research laboratory, which flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth, at about $80 million per ticket.

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