SpaceX accelerates astronauts to the space station on a landmark journey


Four astronauts are sailing to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX capsule on NASA’s first regular mission to the International Space Station.

The dragon capsule is scheduled to arrive at 11:00 PM Eastern time on Monday, more than 27 hours after takeoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon was operating as intended in orbit and would automatically approach the station and dock as planned, said Kathy Lueders, the NASA associate administrator who oversees human spaceflight.

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“It was a beautiful launch,” she said at a press conference late Sunday after the launch, adding that she was “a little shaken” with excitement.

The Crew-1 mission marks a crucial milestone in the development of a space industry in which private sector companies provide commercial and tourism services in low Earth orbit. After the Space Shuttle’s retirement in 2011, NASA awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co. nearly $ 7 billion in contracts to build new transportation systems for the space station as part of the agency’s commercial crew program. .

“A great launch!” President Donald Trump said in a tweet. President-elect Joe Biden called it “a testament to the power of science and what we can achieve by harnessing our innovation, ingenuity and determination.”

SpaceX’s first operational trip to the orbital lab followed a test flight with a two-person crew that returned to the planet three months ago. The latest launch occurred 18 years after Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. with the ultimate goal of populating other planets.

The company has seven additional manned missions for NASA plus a private flight to the station in late 2021 for Houston-based Axiom Space Inc.

Symptoms of moss

The Crew-1 mission was launched two days after National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials determined that Musk, who may have been infected with the coronavirus, had no physical interactions with key personnel.

Musk tweeted Sunday morning that he “had no symptoms right now,” after saying a day earlier that he “most likely” has a moderate case of Covid-19. He said on Thursday that he tested positive and also negative for Covid-19 in four tests, and was experiencing mild cold symptoms.

SpaceX sent its president, Gwynne Shotwell, to Florida to observe the launch. US Vice President Mike Pence also attended.

“Elon was very attached to the launch,” Shotwell said at the press conference. “I have a number of texts to prove it. Regardless of where he is on the planet, he is watching closely and providing guidance and support. ”

In addition to becoming the US space agency’s first regular commercial launch, the Crew-1 mission is also the first human orbital flight authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration. The regulatory authority takes responsibility for public safety because the flight will be conducted by a commercial company.

Mission crew

Crew 1 astronauts are ready for a six-month stay aboard the space station, where they will join two Russians and one American. The dragon’s crew consists of three US and one Japanese astronauts:

  • Commander Michael Hopkins, 51, a US Air Force colonel and test pilot, is making his second voyage to the space station, seven years after his first. He is joined by three others on a mission:
  • Shannon Walker, 55, a physicist and a native of Houston, is serving her second stint in the orbiting lab.
  • Victor Glover, 44, a pilot in the California Navy, is taking his first flight into space. According to NASA, he will be the first black astronaut to remain on the space station for a full six-month rotation.
  • Soichi Noguchi, 55, a Japanese astronaut and aeronautical engineer, has the most space experience among the crew. With Sunday’s flight, he left Earth in three vehicles: the Russian Soyuz, the Space Shuttle and the SpaceX Dragon.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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