Courtesy of Nasa
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are now in orbit following their early morning launch. The crew lifted off at 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday from Launchpad 39A.
The launch countdown proceeded fairly smoothly with few problems. The crew even played a game that resembled rock, paper, scissors.
The rocket lifted the Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and astronaut Thomas Pesquet, to the international space station to begin a six-month mission.
During Crew Dragon’s flight to the space station, SpaceX mission control at Hawthorne, California, along with Nasa mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, will command the spacecraft from its mission.
This was SpaceX’s third crewed launch ever.
“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program” said NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”
The Crew will dock autonomously (or manually, if anything goes wrong) to the space station at about 5:10 a.m. EDT, Saturday, April 24. NASA would provide live coverage through docking and hatch opening.
Like any over spaceflight, this mission also had many firsts, including:
- First reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a crew mission –The spacecraft carrying the crew also flew the historic (and famous) Demo-2 mission.
- First time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked to station at the same time. The other would be the crew 1 spacecraft.
- First commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut. Pesquet is the first of three ESA crew members assigned to fly to station on a commercial spacecraft.
Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will join Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei, Soichi Noguchi, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. Number of crew on the space station will increase to 11 people until astronauts Walker, Hopkins, Glover, and Noguchi end their 6-month mission.
The Crew-2 members will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return no earlier than Oct. 31.
An important science experiment on this expedition is continuing a study of tissue chips, or small models of human organs. Another important element of Crew-2’s mission is installing the first roll-out Solar Arrays, which will help power the station.
Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at: