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Test Dummy Makes It to Space Station in US-Built Capsule

The Free Press WV

A sleek new American-built capsule with just a test dummy aboard docked smoothly with the International Space Station on Sunday, bringing the US a big step closer to getting back in the business of launching astronauts. The white, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule, developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company under contract to NASA, closed in on the orbiting station nearly 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean and, flying autonomously, linked up on its own, without the help of the robotic arm normally used to guide spacecraft into position, the AP reports. Dragon’s arrival marked the first time in eight years that an American-made spacecraft capable of carrying humans has flown to the space station.

If this six-day test flight goes well, a Dragon capsule could take two NASA astronauts to the orbiting outpost this summer. SpaceX’s 27-foot-long capsule rocketed into orbit early Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with a mannequin strapped into one of its four seats. The test dummy was nicknamed Ripley after the main character in the Alien movies. Ripley and the capsule were rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration, and stresses and monitor the life-support, propulsion, and other critical systems. Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques pronounced the docking flawless and called it “a beautiful thing to see.“ “Welcome to the new era in spaceflight,“ he said.

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