The Crew-1 mission is the first launch after the successful Demo-2 experience, which began on May 30.
Space X together with NASA successfully sent the first formal operational manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from US soil.
After the success of the Demo-2 test mission, the private space company, Space X, once again demonstrates with this launch that it was born to drastically change the exploration of space.
The Crew Dragon capsule lifted off at 7:27 PM ET on top of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this Sunday night, November 15.
Dragon has completed 22 flights to and from the @space_station. It was designed from the beginning with human spaceflight in mind – even the first cargo Dragon had a window pic.twitter.com/tpl7smjFhF
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 15, 2020
On the spacecraft are three NASA astronauts: Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.
Takeoff! At 7:27 pm ET, @SpaceX’s # Falcon9 rocket and #CrewDragon capsule have lifted off from @NASAKennedy’s historic 39A platform. 🚀
The capsule will dock with the @Space_Station tomorrow Monday at 11pm ET. https://t.co/ukSjoY7j76 pic.twitter.com/BzAHAF4GiY
– NASA in Spanish (@NASA_es) November 16, 2020
The crew is go for launch pic.twitter.com/HqJGin0gg7
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 16, 2020
Due to bad weather, the takeoff changed the date from Saturday to Sunday after the passage of tropical storm Eta, which on Thursday crossed the entire northern part of Florida and continued its journey in Atlantic waters, leaving heavy flooding in this state.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday that the ultimate goal of missions like Crew-1 is « to have more resources to do things for which there is not yet a commercial market, such as going to the Moon and to Mars under the Artemis program ”.
Godspeed Crew-1! #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/b2gazrSIze
– Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) November 15, 2020
« When we have more astronauts, a complete replacement on the International Space Station, the amount of research that is going to be produced is going to be transformative, » he added.
For his part, the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, attended the launch with his wife Karen, calling the feat « a new era in human space exploration in America. »
Less than three minutes after take-off, at an altitude of 90 km and while the rocket was traveling at 7,000 km / h, the Falcon 9 thruster successfully landed on the « Just Read the Instructions » drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The plan is for the booster to be repurposed on SpaceX’s next manned mission, Crew-2.
Their journey will last 27.5 hours, and the Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock at IEE shortly before midnight on Monday, where they will remain for six months. The four astronauts will be greeted by Kate Rubins, from NASA, and Russians Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
Importance of this mission
What is relevant about this Sunday’s launch is that it means the first manned mission that is operated by Elon Musk’s company and the US aerospace agency that leaves from US soil, after nine years of dependence on Russian Soyuz rockets.
This is the first of at least six missions that SpaceX will carry out to the ISS under a $ 2.6 billion contract signed with NASA in 2014, which includes manned and other cargo flights.
« It’s going to be exciting to see how much work we are going to be able to do where we are there, » Mike Hopkins said during a pre-flight interview, adding that there wasn’t much free time on his schedule during the first week of his stay. « So I think they’re going to keep us pretty busy. »