At 4:27 PM PDT on Sunday, the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster exploded at the Kennedy Space Center 39A Launch Complex, as its engines illuminate the Florida coast. The photo-perfect launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is marked as a gumdrop, a.k.a. Resilience.
NASA has not sent humans into orbit from US soil on an operational mission since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The launch of this special mission has been delayed, postponed, and postponed several times – the original schedule included the launch date in November 2016. Four yearsFlexibility has now attached to the International Space Station.
“By working together during these difficult times, I have inspired the nation, the world and, in no small part, the name of this amazing craft, Resilience,” said Michael Hopkins, commander of the Crew-1 spacecraft, before the launch.
Docking was scheduled to take place at 8 PM PDT and was basically just in time. However, shadows obscured the crew’s view of the space station, and the astronauts decided to make a short suspension 20 meters from the docking transformer. After waiting for “sunset” and turning away the shadows, Resilience made a call to the International Space Station and officially made a “simple pickup” at 8:01 PM PDT and docked at about 8:15 PM PDT.
“This is a new era of operational flights to the International Space Station from the Florida coast,” Hopkins said upon docking.
The Crew Dragon carried an international gathering of astronauts: Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker from NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese space agency JAXA. After carrying out a number of safety checks and a welcome party in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the team will work on scientific trials and maintenance. They are expected to spend the next six months at the station. The Dragon is capable of autonomy and the Dragon is rated to stay in the station for 210 days, per NASA requirements.
The launch was celebrated by NASA and SpaceX representatives at a post-launch conference on Sunday. “This is a great day for the United States of America and a great day for Japan,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The big achievement here is that we are now moving away from development and testing and into operational flights.”
“I look forward to enjoying the new era and going together for the future,” said Hiroshi Sasaki, Vice President of JAXA.
Less than 10 minutes after launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster landed safely aboard the Just Read The Instructions drone stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first time that the reusable missile has been used on a mission, and the plan is to reuse it on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon’s next operational flight, Crew-2.
Crew-2 is scheduled to launch in March 2021 and will once again carry four astronauts. It will reuse the Crew Dragon Endeavor, which was first used on the SpaceX Demo-2 mission in May.
After about 12 minutes, Resilience separated from Stage 2 and headed on its way.
This is not the first time that a Falcon 9 rocket has transported the Crew Dragon spacecraft into space. In May, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were NASA astronauts. But this was a test mission, the last square must be decided before operations officially begin for the NASA Commercial Crew Program.
Crew-1 marks the return of operational flights to US soil and the first flight in CCP. Until recently, NASA was purchasing flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Flying SpaceX, NASA will save about $ 25 million per seat.
NASA has also contracted with Boeing to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station, howeverDuring the first launch of an unmanned demonstration.
Updated november 17: added dock success and title change
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