back to article Champagne corks undocked as SpaceX brings the Crew Dragon back to Earth

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft safely returned to the Earth today, dropping into the Atlantic Ocean following a successful mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission, dubbed Demo-1, kicked off just under a week ago with the launch of the crew-capable Dragon capsule aboard a Falcon 9 booster, and subsequent …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Congratulations

    Any landing without incident or disassembly is a good one.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Congratulations

      And as the pilot joke continues it's just a bonus if you can re-use the vehicle.

      I'm surprised he didn't send up a space cheese though. Surely he must have eaten the last one by now? Or if not that, then a bottle case of port.

      Also suprised by the boring name of the recovery ship. Couldn't find a Banks ship called Finders Keepers, so how about the Just Read The Instructions?

      1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

        Re: Congratulations

        JRTI is a landing barge (or Autonomous spaceport drone ship as they call them) for first-stages, I doubt it can be used for capsule recovery. But I was as disappointed as you about the name.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Congratulations

          Good point! I'd forgotten they'd already used that name.

          How about the GCU Very Little Gravitas Indeed? That might suit Musk's Twitter persona rather nicely. Or would that be Unacceptable Behaviour?

          Excession was my favourite book, and Ethics Gradient my favourite name.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Congratulations

            Oh, and a brief look on Wikithingy at Banks ship names, shows that I'm too slow. Musk has already done the Gravitas gag with his new fourth drone ship, which is currently building.

            1. Sweep

              Re: Congratulations

              How about the recovery ship Meatfucker :)

            2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

              Re: Congratulations

              "Well I Was In The Neighbourhood" sounds cromulent.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Congratulations

                Nice. How about "Nice of You To Drop In"?

          2. Killing Time

            Re: Congratulations

            'Excession was my favourite book, and Ethics Gradient my favourite name.'

            As the pickup job involves a lot of hanging around, 'Beats Working' could be a contender.

            Top choice of novel by the way.

      2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Alert

        Space cheese

        Sadly I think I saw it is still (ton) on display... they never ate it. Must be rather pongy by now.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Congratulations

        Maybe the boring name is simply because this is a test run. A production recovery ship could be something like Your Seat Cushion Is A Floatation Device.

      4. AdamT

        Re: Congratulations

        I thought there was a sea-faring tradition that you don't rename ships. So the landing pad ships can be named how they like as they were built for Space-X but the rest of their fleet was bought/leased so they are stuck with the original names.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Congratulations

          "a sea-faring tradition that you don't rename ships"

          I don't think the [insert name of navy] got that memo.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Congratulations

            I don't think the [insert name of navy] got that memo

            And even that bastion of tradition known as the Royal Navy does it - quite a few ships captured from the French during the Napoleonic wars got renamed when brought into service. I don't think the tradition counts when applied to a vessel bought/stolen from another navy..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Congratulations

              But quite a few were not as when the captured French ship " L'Invincible," was renamed HMS Invincible.

              Or 'Immortalité' as 'HMS Immortalite'

              Or the French corvette Bacchante as HMS Bacchante

  2. Vulch

    Spot the Canberra

    The chase aircraft NASA used to provide the imagery from aquisition to the drogue chutes opening was a WB-57, a heavily modified example of the English Electric Canberra built in the USA. One of three still operated by NASA 70 years after the first examples flew.

    1. Eric Olson

      Re: Here in the UK... off topic

      Oh c'mon, it was first flow in 1949. That wasn't 70 years.... oh crap, it is.

      Means my parents are closer to get 70 that 60 now, too. My damn frame of reference keeps shifting, and my math circuits can't keep up.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: Here in the UK... off topic

        A bit like when you fill in an online form and find it's taking longer and longer to scroll to your birth year....

        1. Ken Shabby

          Re: Here in the UK... off topic

          Or the dreaded feeling that it might not be there.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Here in the UK... off topic

            Oh I dunno - I'd probably consider it not being there when I still am something to be proud of.

            But then again getting towards the age when birthdays are less celebrated than achieved...

        2. holmegm

          Re: Here in the UK... off topic

          Or when the Chinese restaurant menu simply doesn't have your year in their animal zodiac table and you have to do the math.

      2. M.V. Lipvig

        Re: Here in the UK... off topic

        Think that's bad? I now work with people who weren't born when I first started doing what I do for a living as a civilian. Had a military career (sadly, not until retirement,) started working in my field as a civilian, THEN their parents started knocking boots. I try not to think about it...

        1. F111F

          Re: Here in the UK... off topic

          The worst is working as a high school sports official. Every year I get older, every year they're still 18... They play pre-game motivational songs where I'm the only one on the field alive when the song originally came out, including coaches these days, sheesh.

  3. imanidiot Silver badge

    Well done!

    Congrats to the spaceX team!

    I do think some further work is needed on the stability of the chutes. They were squidding a lot, and seemed to interfere with each others stability. Not to the point of collapse but once or twice they seemed to get close to it.

    1. Timbo

      Re: Well done!

      "I do think some further work is needed on the stability of the chutes. They were squidding a lot, and seemed to interfere with each others stability. Not to the point of collapse but once or twice they seemed to get close to it."

      I spotted this as well...so, good call. :-)

      Am not sure why (at this time) 3 people downvoted you though ?

      1. Killing Time

        Re: Well done!

        'Am not sure why (at this time) 3 people downvoted you though ?'

        Perhaps because parachutes are one of the most mature technologies in landing heavy loads from height. The technology not only works reliably on Earth, it demonstrably works on other planets and moons.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Well done!

          @Killing time:

          "Perhaps because parachutes are one of the most mature technologies in landing heavy loads from height. The technology not only works reliably on Earth, it demonstrably works on other planets and moons."

          You'd be surprised just how much we don't quite understand about parachute behaviour and canopy stability. Why they can suddenly become unstable and squid/collapse completely is still very much an incompletely solved problem. Especially the way several large canopies over a spacecraft interact and interfere with each other is very VERY complicated. The canopies certainly weren't as stable as they should have been.

          Compare it to the Apollo chutes if you will: Apollo 12 and Apollo 17

          (Mains open at 2:59 on Apollo 12 and 2:46 on Apollo 17, footage is a bit overexposed, but it's the best you're gonna get with the tech of the time. Notice how on Apollo the parachutes, once open remain roughly the same diameter? They're not opening and closing, changing diameter, breathing or squidding? Yes, they are interacting and bouncing against one another, and twirling around, but this stabilises rather quickly and they all find their own plane as it descents. Now compare it to the SpaceX footage. On the Crew Dragon you can see that once open the mains keep opening and closing/squidding. They also keep bouncing off each other and keep changing their downplane angles. At one point one of the chutes comes very close to having such an acute angle it might collapse. (See at 8:50 in this video and watch the edge of the left side chute. The rear right edge is also going flaccid) This happens multiple times during the descent.

          It's actually even something SpaceX itself mentioned as being one of the open questions and points of nervousness in both the docking and hatch closing webcasts (And I think I've heard it mentioned during the re-entry webcast too)!

          1. Killing Time

            Re: Well done!

            @iamanidiot

            Granted, but along with the body of past experience I think it's reasonable to assume Space X have put some testing time into this and no two days are the same in terms of shear winds.

            Only time will tell.

  4. David Harper 1

    Well done, SpaceX ...

    ... for successfully repeating what NASA already did fifty years ago, but with 1960s technology.

    1. Synkronicity

      Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

      But that's the f-ing point. A private company is doing what was once the provenance of superpowers. Where we go from here can only get more exciting for the future of our species.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

      Actually, NASA couldn't do this 50 years ago. None of the computers were even remotely capable of autonomous operation.

      They also had a real hard time with landing where they wanted, requiring half the American navy to recover things.

      1. David Harper 1

        Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

        According to NASA data, from Gemini 8 onwards -- and including every single manned Apollo flight -- no spacecraft splashed down more than ten miles from the target. I'd call that pretty accurate in the pre-GPS era.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

          Thanks! That's actually something I didn't know.

        2. Killing Time

          Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

          I'm not sure GPS would be the limiting factor regarding landing accuracy. Ships and planes managed to navigate pretty accurately without it.

          I would have thought it was more the control / thruster technology along with the limited meteorology.

          Upper atmosphere winds can now be measured, modelled in real time and fed back to the craft prior to entry

          Doubtless the 60s and 70s capability was pretty crude to non existent by todays standards.

    3. fishman

      Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

      The difference is that if NASA back then was as risk adverse as NASA is today we would have taken 30+ years to get to the moon.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

        Congratulations on doing what the Nazis did 80years ago - but this time with parachutes and missing london.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

          "Congratulations on doing what the Nazis did 80 years ago - but this time with parachutes and missing London." (also missing Antwerp)

          The joke's a decent one, but: those A4/V2 rockets couldn't put anything into orbit, had pretty iffy guidance systems (which were admittedly highly advanced for the era), and a tendency to fall apart on re-entry. And while some might describe Elon Musk as a metaphorical slave-driver given the way he expects his employees to work, SpaceX does not really use slave labour to build its space hardware, unlike certain Third Reichs I can think of.

          1. quxinot
            Mushroom

            Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

            >and a tendency to fall apart on re-entry.<

            Isn't that precisely what they were designed to do? Explosively, at that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

              The BBC had a programme to reproduce the destructive effects of various WW2 bombs and missiles.

              They had a building designed to show the effects of nearby explosions as the war progressed. Finally to emulate the V2 they buried an equivalent amount of explosive for the 1 ton warhead. The depth was calculated to be how far the missile would penetrate before the detonation sequence had completed after contact with the ground.

              When they detonated the explosives - the building suffered no real damage compared with previous bombs. What happened was that an enormous amount of earth was ejected high into the air over a large area. This verified the wartime reports that victims were often killed by being buried under the falling earth.

              I am now looking at an original edition of the "News Chronicle" "Late London Edition" dated Saturday, November 11 1944. The headline is "V2: HERE ARE THE ROCKET SECRETS".

              The V2 launching sites were now being overrun by the Allied advances. Following Churchill's speech about it the previous day - they could now publish some of the withheld damage pictures. Government policy had been to keep a lid on news of the attacks to prevent the Germans knowing how they were ranging.

              There is also a short technical description that would have sounded like science-fiction to most of their readers. Altitude 60-70 miles; speed > Mach 4; fuel consumption 2,268 gallons a minute; range 240 miles; flight time 4 minutes.

              At that time no aeroplane had yet reached Mach 1 which is 1195 km/h (717mph). The Me262 jet could reach over 850 km/h (530 mph).

              The wartime newspaper was published as a single fold broadsheet of four printed sides. It has been stored folded in quarters. As wartime paper was quite acidic it has become brown and fragile at the edges/folds where exposed to light.

              A suitably good home for the newspaper's preservation would be considered as it is only slightly older than myself.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

                The Me262 jet could reach over 850 km/h

                And the Me 163 Komet (rocket-powered interceptor) could reach about 1000 km/h - still not Mach 1. And, by all accounts, pretty lethal to the pilots during training (a bit like the Yamaha RD250/350/500 motorbikes - they had such an insane power curve that inexperienced riders often crashed when they hit the power curve for the first time. The RD250 was once described as "expressly designed to power-wheelie learners[1] into roadside furniture"..)

                [1] Those were the days when having a provisional license allowed you to ride a 250cc bike - or much, much bigger if fitted with a side-car. Which lead to the development of 'sidecars' which were effectively just a tea-tray with a wheel and clever springs that allowed the bike to still lean properly.. The 250cc allowance (and sidecar allowance) was removed shortly after.

                1. Killing Time

                  Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

                  'The RD250 was once described as "expressly designed to power-wheelie learners[1] into roadside furniture"..)'

                  A mate of mine had to be the first in the area to own one when they were first released. He picked a brand new one from the dealer then dropped and wrote it off at the first roundabout he came to.

        2. Spherical Cow

          Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

          Most V2s also missed London.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

            BBC4 TV repeated a 2011 programme recently on "Operation Crossbow". About the way the V1 and V2 threat was perceived and countered using intelligence from 3D aerial photography.

            On BBC IPlayer for 26 days from 10 March 2019. Geographically limited viewing.

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b011cr8f/operation-crossbow

          2. graeme leggett

            Re: Well done, SpaceX ...

            Because British intelligence were feeding duff gen to the Germans.

            Had they received accurate feedback on the target, the Wehrmacht could probably have improved on accuracy.

            That said Jerry aimed 40-odd V2s at my home city and did not hit any buildings.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    Great stuff!

    I'll raise a glass (or two) to all people involved in this success

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Great stuff!

      Well it is Friday

  6. Andy Non
    Alien

    Well done but

    I hope "Ripley" hasn't brought any drooling guests back with her.

    1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

      Re: Well done but

      And considering the watery ending, it's a good thing Jonesy wasn't on board.

  7. Alister Silver badge

    Like its freighter counterpart, the Crew Dragon can bring supplies back from the ISS (although not quite so much – its priority is cargo of the talking variety, of course).

    Toasters?

    1. SarkyGit

      Would you like a toasted teacake?

      1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

        Hello. My name is Jrti. I am a veterinarian from Århus. You may call me, "The Saint".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Would you like a toasted teacake?"

        “something almost, but not quite entirely unlike tea"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given Musk's level of diplomacy....

    ... then Grey Area might be more appropriate

    1. stiine Bronze badge
      Devil

      Re: Given Musk's level of diplomacy....

      Well, he could christen it "Fuck the SEC"

  9. Borg.King
    Coat

    Seven Step Process

    would be a suitable name for a Recovery ship.

  10. Scott Broukell

    But . . .

    With all that electronic gubbins inside of it surely the manikin would have been more aptly named Bishop, just saying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But . . .

      Then we'd need a smaller manikin to accompany it, measurements would have been disrupted and the Pope would have to disavow the thing later..

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