SpaceX First operational Crew Dragon mission en-route ISS (+VIDEO) - aksu360

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SpaceX First operational Crew Dragon mission en-route ISS (+VIDEO)

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A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying 4 American and 1 Japanese astronauts is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after a successful Falcon 9 launch in the early hours of today, Nov. 16 2020.


The Falcon 9 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Resilience” by its four-person crew, separated from the rocket’s upper stage 12 minutes after liftoff. The rocket’s first stage landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean nine and a half minutes after liftoff.


The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at approximately 11 p.m. Eastern Nov. 16. The crew of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Vic Glover and Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will stay on the station for 6 months.


The launch was scheduled for Nov. 14 2020 but delayed a day because of weather that delayed the arrival of the droneship to the landing zone in the Atlantic. It was not affected by an apparent case of COVID-19 by SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, who reported mixed testing results and symptoms consistent with a mild case. Musk was not in close contact with the crew, and was notably absent from pre-launch activities at KSC, with company president Gwynne Shotwell present instead.



The Crew-1 mission sets a number of firsts. 

Glover will be the first Black astronaut to perform a long-duration flight on the ISS. Noguchi is the first Japanese astronauts to fly to orbit on three different vehicles: the shuttle, Soyuz and Crew Dragon. The mission is the first crewed orbital flight licensed commercially by the Federal Aviation Administration.


The mission is also the first operational commercial crew flight, after the successful completion of the Demo-2 test flight this summer with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. NASA signed the paperwork formally certifying the spacecraft at the end of a flight readiness review Nov. 10.


It’s just a tremendous day that is a culmination of a ton of work,” Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said at a Nov. 10 briefing after the review. “It’s NASA saying to SpaceX you have shown us you can deliver a crew transportation capability that meets our requirements.


The certification also formally closed out SpaceX’s commercial crew contract with NASA to develop and demonstrate the Crew Dragon spacecraft. “With this milestone, NASA has concluded that the SpaceX system has successfully met our design, safety and performance requirements,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA Headquarters, during a Nov. 12 call with reporters. “It marks the end of the development phase of the system.”

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