SpaceX sends first of six crewed missions to the International Space Station

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 16, 2020

On Sunday, November 15, 2020, SpaceX's Crew-1 mission launched its first operational flight of their new Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX engineers completed troubleshooting on heater controls associated with Crew Dragon's propellant system, and updated the crew. The trip would have been shorter if the weather had not interfered with the planned Saturday launch because the ISS was lined up in its orbit in a way that would have allowed the Crew Dragon to reach it in about eight hours.

In explaining about the mission, NASA said, "An global crew of astronauts is en route to the worldwide Space Station following a successful launch on the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history".

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Crew commander Mike Hopkins, 51, is an Air Force colonel and former space station resident who grew up on a hog and cattle farm in Missouri. But the launch was postponed for a day due to forecasts of gusty winds - remnants of Tropical Storm Eta - that would have made a return landing for the Falcon 9's reusable booster stage hard, NASA officials said.

"And now it's time for us to do our part, Crew 1 for all", Hopkins said.

President-elect Joe Biden tweeted his congratulations to NASA and SpaceX on the launch, calling it "a testament to the power of science and what we can accomplish by harnessing our innovation, ingenuity, and determination".

SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon capsule under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which, for the first time in the space agency's history, handed over much of the design, development and testing of new human-rated spacecraft to the private sector.

"This is an important mission for NASA, SpaceX and our partners at JAXA, and we look forward to watching this crew arrive at station to carry on our partnership for all of humanity".

Sunday's launch is thus considered the first fully operational mission for a Crew Dragon. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will become only the third person to rocket into orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft. NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing fixed-price contracts worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to get the job done. The successful second launch of a crew to the ISS is a landmark for NASA and SpaceX. Officials say that this equates to more people engaging in more scientific research at the orbiting lab, Musk was replaced at Kennedy Space Center by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

SpaceX and NASA have conducted contact-tracing and determined Musk had not come into contact with anyone who interacted with the astronauts.

"Our astronauts have been in quarantine for weeks, and they should not have had contact with anybody", NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Friday.

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