American private aerospace company SpaceX has successfully concluded a major flight demonstration of its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.
The spacecraft was mounted on the Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US.
Configured to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after lift-off, Crew Dragon completed the manoeuvre, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing, as expected.
This demonstration was the final major flight test for the spacecraft prior to it enters operation to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX chief engineer Elon Musk said: “As far as we can tell thus far, it’s a picture-perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect.
“This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the SpaceX and Nasa teams to achieve this goal.”
The joint teams from Nasa and SpaceX will start the full data reviews that need to be completed before Nasa astronauts fly the system during SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission.
Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program seeks to develop and fly human space transportation systems.
The programme has seen investments in several American companies for the development of a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “This critical flight test puts us on the cusp of returning the capability to launch astronauts in American spacecraft on American rockets from American soil.
“We are thrilled with the progress Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon.”