SpaceX has successfully launched its second crew of astronauts into space. The crew jetted out of the earth inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft in a flight dubbed “Crew-1.”
This is the first mission for the Dragon spacecraft, a new spaceship powered by a reusable rocket that could make space travel cheaper than it has ever been. NASA also notes that the launch of Crew-1 marks the beginning of a new era where the space agency will send astronauts into orbit on a regular basis.
The crew departed the planet at around 7.30 PM, ET on top of the Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket launched from Florida. The capsule is carrying four astronauts and the crew is expected to dock at the International Space Station on Monday. The members include Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi, an aeronautical engineer from Japan’s space agency JAXA.
NASA also noted that the Falcon 9 booster successfully landed back on Earth and it’s likely going to be reused for the next crewed mission into the International Space Station.
The Crew Dragon is the first vehicle that NASA has approved to carry humans into space since the Space Shuttle. It’s also the first vehicle to be provided by a private company. NASA is hoping to leverage the partnership it has with SpaceX to make it easier for crews to launch into space.
Following the successful launch of Crew 1, the federal agency is expected to launch such missions at least twice each year or even more in the coming years. Nonetheless, it hasn’t been an easy journey towards this milestone. Before the successful launch of CREW 1, NASA lost two space shuttles during launch and had to go back to the drawing board.
The space agency notes that while the successful launch of Crew 1 is great news, it’s not an indication that its work is done. The agency says that it will be looking carefully at the launch data this time and see if there are any areas where it can make improvements moving forward. Nonetheless, it’s still a critical milestone.
For many years, the US space agency relied heavily on Russian rockets to launch astronauts into space. This is the first time the agency has been able to launch astronauts from the US using US-made technology. It’s a big boost for the independence and security of American space exploration. The use of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is also huge because it will allow the agency to get a lot more work done over a short period of time than it used to.
The Crew Dragon can also carry four astronauts at any given time. The Soyuz capsule that NASA used before can only carry 3. In essence, NASA now has the ability to launch more people into the International Space Station with a single flight. The arrival of the four crew members aboard CREW-1 will bring the total number of astronauts at the ISS to seven.