Four astronauts cruise aboard a SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station on the company's first regular NASA mission to the International Space Station.
The kite capsule is expected to arrive at the orbit laboratory around 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, more than 27 hours after takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a drone ship approximately nine minutes after launch.
The Crew-1 mission marks a critical milestone in the development of a space industry in which private companies provide business and tourism services in near-earth orbit. After the Space Shuttle resigned in 2011, NASA loaned Elon Musks SpaceX and Boeing Co. has signed contracts to build new transportation systems to the space station valued at nearly $ 7 billion as part of the agency's commercial crew program.
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"A great start!" said President Donald Trump in a tweet. President-elect Joe Biden called it "a testament to the power of science and what we can achieve using our innovation, ingenuity and determination."
SpaceX's first operational trip to the orbital laboratory followed a test flight with a crew of two who had returned to the planet three months ago. The last launch came 18 years after Space Exploration Technologies Corp. was founded. through Musk with the aim of populating other planets.
The Crew 1 mission kicked off two days after officials from the National Aviation and Space Agency determined that Musk, who may be infected with coronavirus, had no physical interactions with key personnel.
Musk tweeted Sunday morning that he had "no symptoms at the moment" after saying the day before that he was "most likely" to have a moderate case of COVID-19. He said late Thursday that he had tested positive and negative for COVID-19 in four tests and had mild cold symptoms.
SpaceX sent its President Gwynne Shotwell to Florida to watch the launch. US Vice President Mike Pence was also present.
In addition to the US space agency's first regular commercial launch, the Mission 1 mission is also the first human orbital flight to be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The regulator takes responsibility for public safety as the flight is operated by a commercial company.
The astronauts of Crew 1 are scheduled to stay on board the space station for six months, where they will join two Russians and an American. The crew of the kite consists of three astronauts from the USA and one from Japan:
- commander Michael HopkinsThe 51-year-old colonel and test pilot in the US Air Force is making his second trip to the space station seven years after his first trip. He's on a mission with three others:
- Shannon WalkerThe 55-year-old physicist and native Houstonian is spending her second stay in the orbit laboratory.
- Victor GloverThe 44-year-old Navy pilot from California flies into space for the first time. According to NASA, he will be the first black astronaut to stay on the space station for six months.
- Soichi Noguchi, 55, a Japanese astronaut and aeronautical engineer, has the most space experience among the crew. With the flight on Sunday he left Earth in three vehicles: the Russian Soyuz, the Space Shuttle and the SpaceX Dragon.
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