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Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches Crew-1 mission, starting a brand new period of NASA human spaceflight

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket crackled by means of the sky Sunday night, carrying the corporate’s Crew Dragon spacecraft “Resilience” to orbit and marking the start of a brand new period of human spaceflight for NASA.

The Crew-1 mission options the primary SpaceX launch with a full crew, as NASA this week licensed Elon Musk’s enterprise as the primary non-public firm with an operational system to launch astronauts to-and-from house. It’s a historic milestone for SpaceX, coming after years of labor to develop and check its spacecraft to fly folks usually to orbit.

“To the Falcon 9 team, well done. That was one heck of a ride; there was a lot of smiles,” NASA astronaut and Resilience commander Mike Hopkins stated from house. “But also to the SpaceX recovery and launch teams, and all of the NASA teams and [Department of Defense] teams, we wouldn’t be up here in [low Earth orbit] without your support.”

“Making history is definitely hard and you guys all made it look easy,” Hopkins added.

Musk tweeted a single coronary heart emoji shortly after Resilience reached orbit.

Crew Dragon Resilience is carrying NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The astronauts are headed for the International Space Station, anticipated to dock with the house station on Monday night. They will spend the subsequent six months on board the ISS, spending time conducting microgravity research and different scientific analysis.

NASA astronauts (proper to left) Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi of their SpaceX spacesuits throughout Crew-1 pre-launch preparations.

NASA

Crew-1 additionally comes lower than six months after the corporate’s historic closing demonstration mission, which launched a pair of astronauts on a check flight in May and represented the corporate’s first launch with folks on board.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is an developed model of its Cargo Dragon spacecraft, which has launched to the house station 20 occasions. Just as Cargo Dragon was the primary privately developed spacecraft to convey provides to the ISS, so Crew Dragon is the primary privately developed spacecraft to convey folks. 

The firm developed Crew Dragon below NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which which supplied the corporate with greater than $three billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions. Crew-1 represents the primary of these six missions for SpaceX, with NASA now benefiting from the funding it made within the firm’s spacecraft improvement.

Commercial Crew is a aggressive program, as NASA additionally awarded Boeing with $4.eight billion in contracts to develop its Starliner spacecraft — however that competing capsule stays in improvement attributable to an uncrewed flight check that skilled vital challenges almost a yr in the past.

Congratulations for SpaceX and NASA got here in throughout social media, together with from Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and President-elect Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump tweeted that it was “a great launch.” He additionally stated “NASA was a closed up disaster when we took over,” though the Commercial Crew program was funded below the administration of President Barack Obama.

Beyond flying missions for NASA, SpaceX additionally plans to make use of Crew Dragon spacecraft for different missions. Those embody house tourism, as the corporate has to this point unveiled two offers to fly privately paying folks to house on Crew Dragon as early as subsequent yr.

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