NASA & SpaceX Launch First Operational Mission to Space

The crew will dock to the space station on Monday night.

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World
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SpaceX Crew-1 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
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NASA successfully launched four astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon “Resilience” to the International Space Station on Sunday, 15 November.

This was NASA’s first full-fledged mission of sending a crew in a privately-owned spacecraft. SpaceX is owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The Crew Dragon capsule lifted three Americans – Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walke – and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida at 7:27 pm local time.

Thus ending almost a decade of international reliance on Russia for rides on its Soyuz rockets, reported news agency AFP.

Vice President Mike Pence attended the launch and called it a “new era in human space exploration in America.”

Meanwhile, US President-Elect Joe Biden congratulated NASA and SpaceX on the launch. “I join all Americans and the people of Japan in wishing the astronauts Godspeed on their journey,” Biden tweeted.

President Donald Trump also tweeted calling it “a great launch”.

SpaceX team members talking over the radio said that the capsule was successfully separated from the second stage of the rocket, reported AFP.

“It has achieved a nominal orbit insertion,” the team member said.

This means that the capsule is on the right trajectory.

The crew will dock to the space station at 11:00 pm on Monday night and join two Russians and one American on board the station. It will stay for six months, reported AFP.

The Crew-1 flight was earlier scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 on Saturday at 7:49 pm, but the decision to delay the launch was taken after teams completed the final major review for the mission on Friday.

Crew-1 is the first crew rotation flight of a US commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station following the spacecraft system's official human rating certification.

The Crew Dragon, including the Falcon 9 rocket and associated ground systems, has become the first new, crew spacecraft to be NASA-certified for regular flights with astronauts since the space shuttle nearly 40 years ago.

“I’m extremely proud to say we are returning regular human spaceflight launches to American soil on an American rocket and spacecraft,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, had said in a statement before the launch.

SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002.

(With inputs from AFP, Reuters and IANS)

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