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SpaceX DM-1 Launch Successful, Docks to ISS

March 3, 2019

SpaceX Demo-1 (DM-1) is underway following a successful launch on Saturday from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

DM-1 is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership. The mission also marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil.

“It’s an exciting evening,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the launch. “What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight. We’re looking forward to being one of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.”

After completing 18 orbits of Earth following its launch, Crew Dragon successfully attached to the ISS Harmony module forward port via “soft capture” while the station was traveling more than 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just north of New Zealand.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

As the spacecraft approached the space station, it demonstrated its automated control and maneuvering capabilities by arriving in place at about 492 feet (150 meters) away from the orbital laboratory then reversing course and backing away from the station to 590 feet (180 meters) before the final docking sequence from about 65 feet (20 meters) away.

The Crew Dragon used the station’s new international docking adapter for the first time since astronauts installed it during a spacewalk in August 2016.

Aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory on Sunday Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 5:02 a.m. CT, the first autonomous docking of any U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon for the first time. They are wearing protective gear to avoid breathing particulate matter that may shaken loose during launch.

Crew Dragon will remain docked until approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8, a little more than six hours after departing the space station.

NASA and SpaceX will use data from Demo-1 to further prepare for Demo-2, the crewed flight test that will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. NASA will validate the performance of SpaceX’s systems before putting crew on board for the Demo-2 flight, currently targeted for July.

Learn more about DM-1 by reading our 1-on-1 interview with Flight Director Scott Stover on Roundup Reads.