SpaceX's Crew Dragon module has splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean

NASA via AP

NASA via AP

The educational stuffed toy will remain on the space station while it's ride returns to Earth.

Crew Dragon's departure burns quickly moved it outside the station's imaginary 200-meter-wide Keep Out Sphere, and in roughly 20 minutes, it was outside the 4-by-2 kilometer approach ellipsoid.

Capsules have no wings and fall to the earth, their descent slowed only by parachutes - much like the Russian Soyuz craft, which land in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

An unmanned SpaceX capsule has successfully splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean after a short-term stay on the International Space Station (ISS). Recovery boats were waiting to hoist the capsule with cranes onto the "Go Searcher" recovery ship.

On Saturday, March 2, at 2:49 a.m. EST, one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets lit up the pre-dawn sky, lofting a Crew Dragon spacecraft created to carry humans-but carrying only a stuffed globe and a manikin named Ripley outfitted with a space suit and suite of sensors-to the International Space Station (ISS).

Both systems must give NASA two independent means - and at a lower cost than that of the Space Shuttle Program - to access the ISS by 2020. They're created to ensure the capsule can safely get humans back to Earth even if something goes wrong during or immediately after launch.

After the capsule reached the space station last Sunday morning, NASA astronaut Anne McClain recognized the event on a live webcast: "We knew how significant it was and how important it was, really for the whole history of spaceflight".

American space station astronauts have been carried to space by Russian rockets since the USA space agency NASA halted its shuttle program eight years ago.

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NASA awarded the first contracts in 2014 to SpaceX and Boeing, now totalling about $8 billion. NASA hoped their spacecrafts would start flying in 2017. This part of that program launched the SpaceX Crew Dragon for the first time.

Despite the distractions, Friday's landing appeared to be another triumph for SpaceX, and validation of years of work.

Take action today and your gift will go twice as far to increase NASA budgets and advance space priorities. Before sealing the Crew Dragon at 12:39 p.m. Thursday for its return, astronauts loaded the vessel with about 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of supplies and other materials to send home.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for DM-1 in the hangar about a month before launch.

This final phase of the Demo-1 mission was perhaps the biggest test of Crew Dragon's new build. He found it "very slick" and called it business class.

"Even though it was historic and emotional, we were really heads down making sure we were doing everything step-by-step correctly" when opening Crew Dragon's hatch, Saint-Jacques said, "but I had these moments of, 'oh, a-ha, ' with the light of the inside and the view of the handsome cockpit".

The timeline for the first flight of Boeing's Starliner is not as clear. It's slated to fly an uncrewed demo mission no earlier than April.

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