An unmanned capsule from Elon Musk’s SpaceX splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday morning after a short-term stay on the International Space Station, capping the first orbital test mission in NASA’s long-delayed quest to resume human space flight from US soil later this year.
After a five-day mission on the orbital outpost, Crew Dragon autonomously detached about 2:30am EST (0730 GMT) on Friday and sped back to earth reaching hypersonic speeds before an 8:45am EST (1345 GMT) splash-down in the Atlantic, about 200 miles off the Florida coast.
A SpaceX rocket launched the 16-foot-tall capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Saturday.
The first-of-its-kind mission, ahead of SpaceX’s crewed test flight slated for June, brought 400 pounds of test equipment to the space station, including a dummy named Ripley, outfitted with sensors around its head, neck, and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.
The space station’s three-member crew greeted the capsule last Sunday, with US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques entering Crew Dragon’s cabin to carry out air quality tests and inspections.