Photos from the launch of SpaceX's first spacecraft created to transport humans

SpaceX UNMANNED Crew Dragon V2 launched - Falcon 9 rocket leaves Kennedy Space Center | Daily Star

It can carry as many as seven people and has three windows, emergency-abort engines that can pull the capsule to safety, and streamlined controls, with just 30 buttons and touch screens, compared with the space shuttle cockpit's 2,000 switches and circuit breakers.

America's newest capsule for astronauts rocketed Saturday toward the International Space Station on a high-stakes test flight by SpaceX. "We've got to dock to the space station and come back".

This Demo-1 mission is a critical test of the spacecraft, confirming the performance of its key systems and identifying any issues that need to be corrected before a crewed test flight, Demo-2, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.

In this image taken from NASA Television, Sunday, March 3, 2019. After reaching the 400-meter point, Dragon was set to move in front of the station, 150 meters away - before automatically docking at 1100 GMT.

With both ships moving through space at almost five miles per second, the new crew capsule halted and briefly reversed course to demonstrate its ability to stop an approach and retreat on command if problems develop.

It's a fitting milestone given that Crew Dragon is one of two private spacecraft, along with Boeing's Starliner, that NASA has chosen to begin ferrying astronauts to space as part of its Commercial Crew program.

As Crew Dragon got closer, there were stunning views from a heads-up display inside Dragon, which could be seen by both the ground and astronauts aboard the ISS. The next one coming up will have its own two-man crew. "We have to dock to the station".

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A single action item concerning Dragon's approach to the station was identified during the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) conducted before launch. The second stage's thrusters carried Crew Dragon into a proper orbital trajectory. The astronauts wore oxygen masks and hoods until getting the all-clear.

The new space vehicle, carrying only cargo and a human dummy, launched Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Congratulations to all of the teams on a successful docking", astronaut Anne McClain radioed from the space station a few minutes later.

"Human space flight is a core value of business of SpaceX". It docked autonomously, instead of relying on the station's robot arm for help. The capsule's nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth, to expose the docking mechanism. But it won't happen before 2023 - with the rocket, far more powerful than that used for the Dragon mission, still in development. But its only passenger is a dummy named Ripley.

The spacecraft will remain attached to the orbiting outpost for a week, before undocking on March 8 and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida, several hours later.

"We're going to learn a ton from this mission, " said NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders. Astronauts in the US have been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets since NASA's fleet was retired in 2011, but those seats are costly. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

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