SpaceX co-launched another group of astronauts for NASA early Friday morning Elon Musk’s The company has now sent 10 astronauts into space in less than a year.
The Crew-2 mission, the company’s second operational mission for NASA and its third to date successfully reached orbit after being launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:49 a.m. ET. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket brought the four astronauts into space in the company’s Crew Dragon spaceship called “Endeavor”.
The launch marked several new novelties for SpaceX, with the company reusing both a rocket and capsule for the mission, surpassing the total number of astronauts launched into space under the Mercury program, which began in 1958.
“It was just spectacular,” said acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk after the start of the Crew 2 mission. “Our partnership with SpaceX has been enormous.”
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is now on its way to the International Space Station. The mission is scheduled to dock with the ISS about 24 hours after take-off at around 5:10 a.m. CET on Saturday.
“We’re just glad to be back in space and we’ll send our regards to Crew-1 when we get there,” said Kimbrough, speaking from the spaceship after takeoff.
The Crew 2 team will conduct a full-time mission on the ISS and spend approximately six months on board. The four astronauts will join the Crew 1 astronauts who launched in November before the latter team’s Crew Dragon capsule ‘Resilience’ undocks and returns to Earth.
After launch, SpaceX also landed the booster of its Falcon 9 rocket, the large lower part of the rocket. This Falcon 9 rocket booster previously launched the Crew 1 mission in November, and SpaceX plans to continue using it for future missions.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and optimized its Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which provided the company with $ 3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.
Commercial Crew is a competitive program, as has been awarded by NASA Boeing with $ 4.8 billion in contracts to develop its Starliner spacecraft – but This competing capsule is still under development due to an unscrewed flight test in December 2019, which brought significant challenges.
Crew-2 is the second of these six missions for SpaceX. NASA is now benefiting from the investments it has made in developing the company’s spacecraft.
NASA emphasizes that SpaceX not only gives the agency the ability to send astronauts into space, but also a cost saving option also. The agency estimates $ 55 million per astronaut to fly Crew Dragon, as opposed to $ 86 million per astronaut to fly with the Russians. NASA estimated last year that two private companies were competing for contracts saved the agency between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion in development costs.