Science

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon sends NASA astronauts to ISS, igniting series of operational missions

PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES

According to Space.com, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard the company’s Falcon 9 rocket launched at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida last weekend.

The Crew Dragon capsule, named Resilience, and its Falcon 9 rocket rolled out to Launch Pad 39A late November ninth into the morning of the tenth. The launch was scheduled to occur on the evening of November fourteenth, sending four astronauts: NASA’s Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Shannon Walker with Japan’s Soichi Noguchi, to the International Space Station on Crew-1, SpaceX’s first operational astronaut mission for NASA.

Crew-1 astronauts will stay onboard the ISS for a period of six months, joining the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and Kate Rubins. The arrival of Crew-1 will increase the regular crew size of the space station’s expedition missions from six to seven astronauts, adding to the amount of crew time available for research.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sent out an update via Twitter stating the launch has been postponed until the following day, Sunday, November fifteenth due to onshore winds and recovery operations.

In 2014 NASA’s Commercial Crew Program awarded SpaceX a $2.6 billion contract to fly a minimum of six operational crewed missions to the space station. The upcoming Crew-1 is the first of those contracted flights, but it won’t be SpaceX’s first astronaut mission. That honor goes to Demo-2, a test flight that sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the station for two months in the summer of 2020.

Boeing also got a NASA commercial crew deal in 2014, worth $4.2 billion. The aerospace giant will fulfill the deal using a capsule called CST-100 Starliner, which is not ready to fly astronauts yet. Starliner must first ace an uncrewed test flight to the orbiting lab, a mission that the capsule first tried in December 2019. That attempt failed after a glitch trapped Starliner in an orbit too low to allow docking with the station.

ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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