Through SpaceX, NASA Just Launched Four Astronauts to the ISS

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station
NASA / Joel Kowsky

During the weekend, SpaceX has made history by successfully launching its first operational flight with four astronauts in the commercially developed Crew Dragon. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday marked the start of a 27-hour journey to the International Space Station (ISS). It was also SpaceX’s first flight with an international crew and its first scheduled flight.

The crew is led by NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The rocket is expected to dock at the space station on November 16 at midnight EST. If all goes well, the flight will also be performed autonomously, without the crew having to touch the Crew Dragon’s touch screens.

The Crew-1 mission marks a decade of work between SpaceX and NASA, and their goal is to build a spacecraft capable of bringing humans to the ISS and returning to Earth safely. It also marks another milestone for NASA: providing an independent way for astronauts to launch from the United States, rather than from Kazakhstan. It’s a big win, given the space shuttle’s withdrawal from the agency in 2011. NASA will still work with Russia to maintain the ISS, but now SpaceX represents a second option for putting humans in space. .

The manned launch yesterday was not the first from SpaceX, However. It sent two astronauts to the International Space Station in May and was the first private company to put astronauts into orbit. SpaceX is also focusing on commercial spaceflight, and its Crew Dragon spacecraft is expected to take the actor Tom Cruise on a trade mission in about a year.

via Ars Technica

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