SpaceX has made an incredible technological breakthrough over the past decade, giving an incentive to private space companies to develop more actively. 10 years ago, on May 31, the Cargo Dragon capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, completing the first SpaceX mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This event opened a new era of space flight.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk celebrated the anniversary with a post on Twitter.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of completion of the COTS Demo Flight 2 (COTS 2) – Dragon’s first mission to and from the @Space_Station pic.twitter.com/WVc9kAB0gt
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 31, 2022
Cargo Dragon launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on May 22, 2012 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which still successfully launches payloads into Earth orbit and returns independently for reusable use.
Three days later, on May 25, the robotic arm of the space station Canadarm2 successfully captured Cargo Dragon and soon docked it to the ISS. Then the astronauts on board the station were able to go inside the spacecraft to pick up a batch of supplies from there. They also became the first people who visited inside the capsule in space. However, it will take another 8 years before a more advanced version of Crew Dragon delivers the first astronauts to the ISS and takes them back to Earth. Crew Dragon left the station on May 31 and landed successfully a few hours later.
After a full assessment of the mission, NASA certified the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon space flight system, paving the way for regular cargo delivery missions to the ISS as part of a commercial program.
Then Elon Musk said that the arrival of Cargo Dragon to the space station marked a “great day for the country and the world”. The successful mission pushed SpaceX to even greater achievements. Now the company is designing more ambitious missions, including to Mars, using the world’s most powerful Superheavy rocket with the Starship spacecraft.
Earlier, Crew Dragon carried out the fastest flight to the ISS.
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