Crew Dragon is coming back to Earth: What to know

Crew Dragon is coming back to Earth: What to know

Watch: SpaceX Crew Dragon Set For Splashdown In Atlantic Ocean

On Friday at 8:45 a.m. EST, the Crew Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, reported.

"Today's successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's eastern shore at 8:45am ET, completing an end-to-end flight test to the @Space_Station and back as part of our @Commercial_Crew Program", NASA tweeted.

SpaceX has now completed the first demonstration flight for the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft.

Company founder Elon Musk said during a post-launch news conference last Saturday that the capsule's hypersonic entry, along with launch, rendezvous and docking, posed the greatest risks. "There'll be a Russian on our flights, and we'll still have an American on a Soyuz flight".

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America's Boeing has plans to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as next month, and possibly with astronauts in August.

"Just unbelievable. I can't believe how well the whole mission has gone" with all major milestones met, said Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management. A brand new Crew Dragon will be used for the first piloted test flight this summer.

Five hours after the Crew Dragon detaches from the ISS at about 07:30 EST (3:30 p.m. Moscow time), the spacecraft will activate its braking engines.

A recovery ship, called Go Searcher, waited at sea to use a large crane to haul the capsule out of the water.

As the capsule came back to Earth, it deployed a couple of parachutes to brake its speed. It successfully linked up with the space station the next day.

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The full video of the Crew Dragon's trip home is already available online along with commentary from NASA and SpaceX officials.

While docked at the ISS, humans entered the vehicle for the first time ever, in space.

The U.S. has relied on Russian Federation to launch its astronauts since 2011 when the space shuttle program ended.

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. However, NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to validate the spacecraft's performance and prepare it to fly astronauts.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co a total of $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil, something not possible since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

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Steve Stich, Deputy Manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said during a post-landing appearance on NASA TV that, "I don't think we saw really anything in the mission so far - and we need to do the data review - that would preclude us having the crewed mission later this year".

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