International

SpaceX rocket launches 4 astronauts to space station

SpaceX rocket launches 4 astronauts to space station
NASA astronauts on their way to launch pad 39A for the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP)
WASHINGTON, NOV 16 (IANS) | Publish Date: 11/16/2020 12:52:51 PM IST

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s private aerospace company SpaceX reached another milestone when its Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Crew Dragon spacecraft with four astronauts into orbit, becoming the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history.

The SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off at 7.27 pm EST on Sunday (5.57 am on Monday India time) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission launched NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for a six-month science mission aboard the space station.

“NASA is delivering on its commitment to the American people and our international partners to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective missions to the International Space Station using American private industry,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

“This is an important mission for NASA, SpaceX and our partners at JAXA, and we look forward to watching this crew arrive at station to carry on our partnership for all of humanity.”

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module about 11 pm EST on Monday (9.30 am Tuesday India time), NASA said. “I could not be more proud of the work we’ve done here today,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX.

“Falcon 9 looked great, Dragon was dropped off into a beautiful orbit about 12 minutes into the mission, and we’ll get more data as we go.”

The Crew-1 mission is the first of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Programme.

This mission has several other firsts, including: the first international crew of four to launch on an American commercial spacecraft and the first time the space station’s long duration expedition crew size will increase from six to seven crew members, which will add to the crew time available for research.

Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA.

The crew will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return in spring 2021.

 

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