The Crew Dragon space capsule, owned by SpaceX, was launched yesterday by a Falcon 9 rocket bound for the International Space Station (EEI), with four astronauts on board.
Falcon 9 took off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, United States, at 5:49 am (10:49 am in Lisbon), after the launch was postponed for one day due to adverse weather conditions, becoming SpaceX’s third manned space capsule, which is A private company run by US magnate Elon Musk.
Crew Dragon follows Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, who will complete his second mission on the International Space Station, and Americans Shane Kembrah and Megan MacArthur (commander and flight pilot, respectively) and Japanese Akihiko Hoshide. The crew for this mission will stay six months at EEI, as the Crew Dragon should dock on Saturday 10:10 (Lisbon time).
It is the first time that SpaceX has used a recycled rocket and capsule to launch NASA astronauts, the same process that was used several years ago to refuel the International Space Station.
The Falcon 9 rocket was used last November on SpaceX’s second manned flight, which in its launch today replaced some valves and thermal insulation panels and the installation of new parachutes in the capsule, called the Insiver in honor of NASA’s former space shuttle.
The ability to reuse is vital to SpaceX’s efforts to make space travel possible for civilians, among its other projects, such as bringing NASA astronauts to the moon and installing a base on Mars.
In September, the date of SpaceX’s first private space flight was set, and the following month, the fourth launch of a NASA crew will take place.
Boeing, which NASA has also hired to transport astronauts, is not expected to begin launching until 2022 because it needs to repeat an unmanned test flight of the Starliner capsule, which could happen in late summer.
Despite the passage of time, several people parked their cars on the side of the road next to the launch site to witness the moment of take-off.
NASA has limited the number of guests to watch the launch up close due to restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.