In a first, SpaceX rocket carrying 4 astronauts launches into space

Tuesday, 17 Nov, 2020

NASA and SpaceX launched Crew Dragon spacecraft's first operational crew mission on Sunday, carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month stay.

So far, Crew-1 is proceeding as expected, with a picture-perfect takeoff from Florida, and a successful recovery of the first-stage booster used on the Falcon 9 rocket used to launch Dragon. It may be recalled that SpaceX's first Crew Dragon to launch humans took off in May.

The mission, dubbed "Crew-1", is the first crew rotation flight of a USA commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the ISS. "I would also like to thank Nasa and SpaceX for their tremendous effort to make this happen". She joined NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for last-minute remarks and photos with the astronauts prior to launch.

"I could not be more proud of the work we've done here today", Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, said in a statement.

Shannon Walker, 55, will be one of four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon when it launches into space from Florida's Kennedy Space Center this evening.

NASA and SpaceX have overcome certain delays as the rocket's nine engines roared amid risky weather at 7:27 p.m. ET. The spacecraft is making a 27-hour journey to the International Space Station, which is orbiting earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometers.

The collaboration between SpaceX and Nasa will give the United States the ability to launch people into space from its own country.

This is the first time in history that a private company has executed a manned government space mission.

Why is the mission significant?

Vice-President Mike Pence attended the launch and said beforehand that under President Donald Trump, America had "renewed our commitment to lead in human space exploration". The spacecraft will also deliver over 500 pounds of cargo, science hardware and experiments to the ISS.

"Nasa is delivering on its commitment to the American people and our worldwide partners to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective missions to the global Space Station using American private industry", affirmed Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Assuming everything goes according to schedule and the regular ISS is adhered to, Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov, and Rubins will depart the ISS in April 2021, leaving the Crew-1 astronauts to commence Expedition 65.

The goals of the mission are the same as that of Expedition 1 that lifted off 20 years ago.

Walker is the team's mission specialist.

What is the "SpaceX Crew-1 Lift Off"?

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