Mike Pence flies to Florida to watch NASA-SpaceX launch

Katie Ramirez
November 16, 2020

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called the Cape Canaveral facility in the southernmost USA state Florida "a multi-user space port" that services not only SpaceX but also the United Launch Alliance, a consortium of companies that operates a number of rockets that launch satellites and other spacecraft into Earth's orbit and beyond.

"This is another historic moment", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday. It marks an official return of USA human spaceflight capabilities, and should hopefully become the first in many human flight missions undertaken by SpaceX and Dragon - across both NASA flights, and those organized by commercial customers.

Four diverse astronauts were chosen for the Crew-1 Sunday night ride: Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of Japan.

Mission preparations were under way Sunday afternoon as NASA officials pegged launch probability at 50%, maintaining plans to launch but monitoring wind and cloud formation near the rocket pad that could postpone the mission to Wednesday. Similar pleas for SpaceX's first crew launch on May 30 went unheeded.

SpaceX and NASA have conducted contact-tracing and determined that Musk had not come into contact with anyone who interacted with the astronauts. Musk was replaced by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell in bidding the astronauts farewell. Previous space capsules have launched with no more than three.

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Glover and the others will join NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryxhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov on the space station. Audiences will get a peek into the crew's unique challenges as they adapt to microgravity, perform critical science experiments and operations, and respond to potential catastrophic emergencies. SpaceX would launch yet another crew in late summer or early fall. Roughly nine minutes after liftoff, the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket's first stage booster is due to touch down on the deck of the ship, Space.comreports. With Kennedy back in astronaut-launching action, NASA can stop buying seats on Russian Soyuz rockets.

He will not be the first Black astronaut aboard the station. The last one cost $90 million.

The commander of SpaceX's first crew, Doug Hurley, noted it's not just about saving money or easing the training burdens for crews.

"As you look at the definition of resilience, I know it means functioning well in times of stress or overcoming adverse events, and I think all of us can agree that 2020 certainly has been a challenging year", Hopkins said at a news conference.

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