SpaceX launches 2nd crew, regular station crew flights begin

Katie Ramirez
January 25, 2021

Previously scheduled for a Halloween launch, the mission was delayed until mid-November, allowing SpaceX more time to evaluate what NASA called "off-nominal behavior" of a Falcon 9.

Four astronauts - three from the U.S. and one from Japan - have launched from Florida on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker (1st L), Victor Glover (2nd L), Mike Hopkins (2nd R), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, wave as they walk out of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to depart for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-1 mission launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the United States, on November 15, 2020.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi said the four new crew members are "very humbled and happy" to be aboard the International Space Station and "ready to work". The Crew-1 flight marks the first Crew Dragon operating mission, as SpaceX embarks on the modern age of routinely sending individuals to and from NASA's International Space Station.

SpaceX and NASA are about to once again send astronauts into space - laying even more groundwork for what might become a regular thing. and we'll be streaming the event live, with lift-off slated for 7:27 PM ET.

The launch system is created to work in a completely automated way, which means that it requires no action on the part of the crew on board from launch all the way through its docking with the ISS. At 7:27 pm EST, a Crew Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Resilience, carrying three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese astronaut lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Similar conditions leading up to the launch window could force them to abort.

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-The Japanese Space Agency's Soichi Noguchi, 55, another former station resident, is only the third person to launch on three types of spacecraft.

Besides its sleek design and high-tech features, the Dragon capsule is quite spacious - it can carry up to seven people. The plan is for the booster to be re-used on the next crew flight of SpaceX, Crew-2.

After a flawless launch, four astronauts are headed for a Monday rendezvous with the International Space Station. After NASA's Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, the agency was forced to rely on Russian Federation to get astronauts to the floating lab. A repeat of last December's software-plagued test flight without a crew is off until sometime early next year, with the first astronaut flight of the Starliner capsule not expected before summer.

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

"Bottom line: I think it's just better for us to be flying from the United States if we can do that", he told The Associated Press last week.

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