Astronaut-ready spacecraft reaches orbit

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1 (DM-1) launched from Kennedy Space Center at 0748 UT 02 March 2019. Capsule #C204 is crewed by a crash test gynoid named Ripley, and also includes a small amount of cargo, less than 200 kg. After the capsule completes all tasks on station, it will take a handful of science experiments back to Earth, with splashdown scheduled to take place off the coast of Florida at about 1345 UT 08 Mar.

The mission is required to fully prove the abilities of the capsule formerly known as Dragon 2 (now branded “Crew Dragon” and “Cargo Dragon” depending on mission role), and is the final test flight before humans will fly on follow-up mission DM-2. That mission was planned for July 2019, but more recent estimates range from “summer” to “before the end of the year”. DM-2 will mark the end of the second set of gap years between US crewed orbital spaceflight programs.