SpaceX Successfully Launches Four Astronaut Crew To International Space Station
In a major feat, billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully launched four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in what marks the first-ever full-fledged taxi flight for NASA by a private company, reports Hindustan Times.
Three Americans — Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker — and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi have been blast off at 7:27 pm Sunday (0027 GMT Monday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida — on the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Resilience”.
In May, SpaceX completed a demonstration mission showing it could take astronauts to the ISS and bring them back safely, thus ending almost a decade of reliance on Russia for rides on its Soyuz rockets.
The launch has been attended by Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence.
The crew has docked at their destination at around 11:00 pm Monday night (0400 GMT Tuesday), joining two Russians and one American on board the station, and stay for six months.
The Crew Dragon earlier this week became the first spacecraft to be certified by NASA since the Space Shuttle nearly 40 years ago.
At the end of its missions, the Crew Dragon deploys parachutes then splashes down in the water, just as in the Apollo era.
NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing after shuttering the checkered Space Shuttle launch programme in 2011, which failed in its main objectives of making space travel affordable and safe.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, has leapfrogged its much older rival Boeing, whose program has floundered after a failed test of its uncrewed Starliner last year.