The Crew Dragon capsule successfully detached from the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:30 am EST. It burned its thrusters several times before its final descent. The capsule deployed several parachutes before successfully landing 200 miles off of the coast of Florida at 8:45am EST. SpaceX’s recovery vessel "Go Searcher" was able to retrieve the capsule. According to Benjamin Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management, “Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to.”
Space X’s latest mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets ever since the American space shuttle program was retired on in July 2011. However, these rockets are expensive and inconvenient. NASA signed commercial crew contracts with both SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 and their goals are to build American spaceships that can send astronauts into space.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine remarked, “These are all capabilities that are leading to a day where we are launching American astronauts from American rockets on American soil...this is an amazing achievement in the history of the United States of America.”
SpaceX’s first crewed flight could launch as early as July. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be the first astronauts to launch from American soil in eight years. Boeing is expected to test their first flight in April and may send astronauts into space as early as August 2019.