A few hours later at 8:45am EST, it landed in the water about 240 nautical miles off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first crewed flight of the Dragon could occur as soon as July, although this target date is likely to slip into the summer as engineers work through the post-flight analysis. Demo-2 will be the first crewed test flight aboard the Crew Dragon. Before the mission, NASA officials had said the spacecraft's ability to dock autonomously to the station would be one of the biggest tests of the vehicle. No American company has ever achieved what SpaceX accomplished on Friday morning.
On NASA TV, it looked like a slow-motion ballet even though the two craft were actually orbiting Earth at 17,500 miles per hour.
The flight was a crucial test of the new spacecraft, a seven-passenger vehicle that SpaceX has been developing for the past five years.
Protected by an advanced heat shield, the Crew Dragon quickly slowed in a blaze of atmospheric friction, rapidly shedding horizontal velocity and dropping steeply toward the Earth, descending along a northwest-to-southeast trajectory across the eastern United States. "You see some orange lights flickering, the plasma kind of go past the windows".
"We have a significant amount of training we need to go through that will walk through all the various phases of flight", Behnken said of the coming months.
Nasa and the administration of President Donald Trump have spent all week extolling the historic nature of the mission.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, flying a mission designated Demo-1, undocked from the station's Harmony module at 2:32 a.m.
Also aboard Crew Dragon was a "zero-g indicator", or a plush globe otherwise known as Little Earth, that was put on board to demonstrate when Crew Dragon entered microgravity. That includes testing an upgraded parachute system to land the craft more gently than its cargo version.
Dragon docked at the station on March 3 before detaching early on March 8 for its return to Earth.
Crew Dragon also aced a key NASA review ahead of launch, and the space agency hasn't reported any issues with the mission thus far.
Since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has been unable to fly its astronauts. "Our NASA and SpaceX teams worked seamlessly not only in the lead-up to the flight but in how we managed the flight", said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
Due to development delays, the switch has come to fruition only Trump.
At this point, we tend to take it for granted that SpaceX will stick its landings.