At 2:49 a.m. EST on March 2, SpaceX launched Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This test flight without crew on board the spacecraft is intended to demonstrate SpaceX’s capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Crew Dragon, designed from the beginning to be one of the safest human space vehicles ever built, benefits from the flight heritage of the current iteration of Dragon, which restored the United States’ capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo to and from the International Space Station. Dragon has completed 17 missions to and from the orbiting laboratory.
To support human spaceflight, Crew Dragon features an environmental control and life support system, which provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members. The spacecraft is equipped with a highly reliable launch escape system capable of carrying crew to safety at any point during ascent or in the unlikely event of an anomaly on the pad. While the crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary, Crew Dragon missions autonomously dock and undock with the International Space Station. After undocking from the space station and reentering Earth’s atmosphere, Crew Dragon uses an enhanced parachute system to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
On this first test flight, Crew Dragon transported roughly 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. In addition, the spacecraft carried mass simulators and an anthropomorphic test device (ATD) that is fitted with sensors around the head, neck, and spine to gather data ahead of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission with NASA astronauts on board the spacecraft.
Demo-1 Underway: Crew Dragon Launches on Debut Flight, NASA
Demo-1 Launch Ushers in ‘New Era in Spaceflight’, NASA
NASA, SpaceX Launch First Flight Test of Space System Designed for Crew, NASA
Crew Demo 1 Mission Overview, SpaceX
NASA Commercial Crew Program, NASA