A Crew Dragon space capsule of SpaceX, carrying four cosmonauts of three different nationalities, took off from Kennedy Space Center of the space agency in Florida on Friday morning. The spacecraft will stay in space for almost six months. Moreover, the recent marked the 3rd-ever crewed flight for the agency and the primary one to make use of formerly flown rocket spacecraft and booster.
They’re on their way! @Astro_Kimbrough, @Astro_Megan, @JAXA_en‘s @Aki_Hoshide, and @ESA‘s @Thom_Astro launched aboard their @SpaceX Crew Dragon at 5:49am ET this morning. Docking with the @Space_Station is at 5:10am ET, Sat., April 24: https://t.co/2IUIyZAJsp pic.twitter.com/1KLp5icpbK
— NASA (@NASA) April 23, 2021
NASA astronauts such as Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough are traveling with astronaut Akihiko Hoshide from Japan and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency from France. The whole team of Elon Musk’s space company is due to spend six months on board to the International Space Station after their spacecraft docks early Saturday morning. The Crew Dragon capsule, such as Endeavour, earlier carried National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the space station in May 2020.
Furthermore, the crew soared into space over a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that charred with soot from the last mission it carried in last November. SpaceX long made reusability a foundation stone of its business plan, hoping that refurbishing and recovering hardware will drive down the spaceship cost. The agency re-flown spaceships and boosters several times on cargo and satellite launches during the last some years, but this will mark the first time the space agency will reuse hardware for a crewed mission.
The Astronauts Run through a Series of Safety Checks
On Thursday, after enjoying quality time at the beach and getting some sleep, the crew members reached Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Florida to suit up with a special uniform after midnight. Afterward, the team enjoyed top-quality playlists – one of which included tunes by Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Ozzy Osbourne – inside the Tesla that drove them to the spaceship launch pad before they whipped up the launch tower and approached the spaceship through aerial walkaway.
Furthermore, the astronauts spent some hours strapped into the space capsule by a squad of SpaceX assistants and go through several safety and communication checks. The team momentarily kept themselves entertained during these checks by playing rounds of rock-paper-scissors, a gullible tradition that all cosmonauts that launched out of Kennedy Space Center observe before the flight. ET, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, fired to life and drove the space capsule to over seventeen thousand miles per hour before unraveling from the Crew Dragon spaceship. The space agency also landed the first-stage rocket booster on a naval platform for its reuse on a later mission.
Meanwhile, the Crew Dragon is now going through space. It will remain free-flying through its orbit as it slowly maneuvers nearer to the International Space Station, which orbits around 250 miles above the ground. The spacecraft scheduled to dock with the ISS at about 05:00 a.m. ET Saturday.
Hoshide, McArthur, Kimbrough, and Pesquet will join seven other astronauts already on board the space station, four of whom arrived on capsule in November. It will bring the total staff members of the space station to a total of eleven – one of the largest squads the space station ever hosted. However, that number drops back down o 7 when 4 other astronauts go back home from the station on 28th April.
The United States Pay $90 million per Seat to Russia for every Trip
NASA spent over a decade working to increase staffing on-board the twenty-one-year-old space station after the retirement announcement of its Space Shuttle program in 2011 that left Soyuz spacecraft of Russia as the only option for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Moreover, the U.S. used to pay Russia as much as $90 million per seat for its trips.
For last some years, SpaceX worked under a fixed-price agreement of $2.6 billion to develop its Crew Dragon spaceship under the Commercial Crew program of NASA, which for the first time in the history of space agency handed over the mission of constructing and testing a crew-worthy spaceship to the private sector.
Last May, SpaceX made history with the first crewed launch of a Crew Dragon on Demo-2 mission, which took astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley of NASA to the space station for a four-month stay. Whereas a second crewed SpaceX mission took off last November.
Boeing is also working under a similar pact to manufacture its own capsule for the Starliner program, though it is still in the testing phase. The main focus of the mission of the astronauts will be to study small models or tissue chips of human organs comprising of several cell types that behave much the same as they do in the human body and that National Aeronautics and Space Administration hopes will advance the development of vaccines and drugs, according to NASA.
That work will build on years of studying science and other biological phenomena aboard the International Space Station, where the microgravity environment can give the agency scientists a better essential understanding of anything that works.