SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule Freedom is doing great on its first astronaut mission

The first mission of SpaceX’s newest crew capsule, Dragon, couldn’t have gone better. NASA’s Crew-4 astronauts’ mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was carried out by SpaceX’s Freedom spacecraft.

The mission ended Friday afternoon (Oct. 14) with a crash in the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville, Florida. NASA and SpaceX officials said Freedom’s return to Earth and most of the rest of the mission went smoothly.

“From my perspective, looking at the vehicle data for those five and a half months was delightfully boring while the crew got to do all the exciting work aboard the ISS,” Sarah Walker, director of SpaceX’s Dragon mission management, said at a press conference after the landing Friday evening.

“That’s just the way we like it,” Walker added. “The Freedom car performed beautifully throughout and especially today on its return day.”

On April 27, astronauts Kell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti of NASA and the European Space Agency took off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. They were headed for the orbiting lab.

Freedom reached the ISS the same day, and its crew immediately got to work. Crew-4 astronauts have graduated “over 250 investigations in areas of human research technology demonstrations that we will need to explore as well as complete some of our commercialization activities in low Earth orbit,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s program manager for the ISS, said at a press conference Friday night.

On Friday, the astronauts’ return trip to Earth was also remarkable, and not just because it went smoothly. Freedom landed less than five hours after detaching from the ISS.

“It was actually the fastest return we’ve done on a crewed mission — on any mission — so far.” Walker said.

SpaceX still has a mission to the ISS and will continue for some time. On October 6The Dragon Endurance, which also flew on the Crew-3 mission, brought the four-member Crew-5 to the ISS.

Like Crew-5, Crew-6 will use a Dragon capsule that has been used before. Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said at a briefing Friday that the next mission scheduled to take off next spring will be on the Endeavor spacecraft.

Endeavor flew SpaceX’s first manned mission, Demo-2 to the ISS in 2020. It also flew Crew-2 and the Axiom SpaceX Ax-1 mission. The Ax-1 mission, which took place in April this year and lasted 17 days, was the first time a private crew went to the space station.

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