After the capsule reached the space station last Sunday morning, NASA astronaut Anne McClainrecognized 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.
The successful test and splashdown is "an wonderful achievement in American history", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who called the SpaceX flight the "dawning of a new era in American human space flight".
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.
Crew Dragon brought 180 kilograms of test equipment to the space station, including a dummy named Ripley.
Boeing, meanwhile, is scheduled to send an uncrewed Starliner to the space station no earlier than next month, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
While Crew Dragon will be recovered from the ocean this time, the spacecraft was designed with the ability to make powered landings using its four side-mounted "Super Draco" thrusters.
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.
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The nose cone of the Crew Dragon was closed once the burn completed, unlike the cargo version, which jettisons its own covering during launch.
The mission has so far gone smoothly. Boeing is up next to test its Starliner capsule.
In so doing, NASA hopes to turn over the task of "routine" transportation to low-Earth orbit to the private sector, freeing up government resources for deep space exploration - a return to the moon and eventual flights to Mars.
There are now three astronauts on board the space station: Anne C. McClain from Spokane, Washington; station commander Oleg Kononenko from Russian; and David Saint-Jacques from Canada.
Ever since the Shuttle Program ended in 2011, NASA has been working with commercial partners to provide transportation to and from the ISS.
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