SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship floats away from the International Space Station, with its nose cone still flipped open after undocking. (NASA via YouTube)
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship undocked from the International Space Station and headed toward what could be the most stressful phase of its autonomously controlled test flight: atmospheric re-entry and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
No humans were aboard the 27-foot-long craft when it unhooked itself at 11:31 p.m. PT Thursday and backed away from its port on the station’s U.S.-built Harmony module, 250 miles above the planet. But the Dragon went through all the steps that will have to be executed when astronauts take their first ride, as early as this July.
Once the Dragon reached a safe distance, NASA’s Mission Control in Houston radioed its congratulations to SpaceX’s team, the station’s crew and partners around the world.
“We wish this new asset to human spaceflight fair winds and following seas as it returns to Earth for its splashdown in the Atlantic,” Mission Control said. “You have all made us proud today.”
Aboard the station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain returned the compliment on behalf of the three-person crew.
“We want to take a moment to recognize this ...