After months of anticipation, SpaceX’s new crew-worthy spacecraft, Crew Dragon, reached its last major milestone in a years-long testing program. The success paves the way for astronauts to begin using the spacecraft for rides to the International Space Station this year.
SpaceX’s test appeared to go exactly as intended Sunday. The Falcon 9 rocket shut off its engines after climbing more than 10 miles above ground at supersonic speeds. At the same time, the Crew Dragon capsule detached itself and fired up its own set of engines for a about ten seconds to thrust the vehicle up and away from the rocket.
Crew Dragon then used onboard thrusters to orient the vehicle as it fell back toward Earth. Two sets of parachutes slowed its descent before it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.