SpaceX launches its third astronaut crew, the first on a used Crew Dragon capsule

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The Verge 23 April, 2021 - 05:01am 20 views

What time is spacex launch today?

Liftoff takes place at 5:49 a.m. – SpaceX launched four astronauts from NASA's Kennedy Space Center early Friday morning on the company's third mission carrying humans to the International Space Station. WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlandoWATCH LIVE: NASA, SpaceX provide post-launch update

When is the launch?

Rocket Launch: April 23, 2021 5:49 AM ET | SpaceX Falcon 9 Crew-2. In the second crew launch, four astronauts will launch aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center. Learn more about this milestone launch. kennedyspacecenter.comRocket Launch Schedule

Four astronauts started a 23-hour trek to the International Space Station aboard a previously-flown Crew Dragon capsule

A used Falcon 9 rocket, last flown for SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission last year, lifted off at 5:49AM ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying Endeavor, the same Crew Dragon capsule that first launched SpaceX’s debut astronaut mission nearly one year ago. For this flight, the Endeavor capsule carried four astronauts from three different countries — SpaceX’s most diverse NASA-managed crew yet.

“Off the Earth, for the Earth, Endeavor is ready to go,” NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the mission’s spacecraft commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California minutes before lifting off.

3.. 2.. 1.. and liftoff! Endeavour launches once again. Four astronauts from three countries on Crew-2, now making their way to the one and only @Space_Station: pic.twitter.com/WDAl8g7bUK

Kimbrough and fellow NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, serving as the pilot, accompanied mission specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet, a French aerospace engineer from the European Space Agency (ESA). The crew will spend nearly 24 hours in transit as Endeavor autonomously raises its orbit toward the ISS ahead of a 5:10AM ET docking tomorrow, April 24th.

Sunlight beamed into the windows of Crew Dragon Endeavor as it separated from its Falcon 9 second stage booster roughly 12 minutes after the pre-dawn liftoff, prompting cheers and applause from engineers on a live video feed in SpaceX’s mission control. “Thanks for flying our first flight-proven, crewed Falcon 9,” mission control said to the Endeavor crew, confirming a successful arrival in orbit.

“We’re great, glad to be back in space for all of us, and we’ll send our regards to Crew-1 when we get there,” Kimbrough, seen on live camera feeds from inside Crew Dragon, replied from Endeavor. A stuffed penguin toy, serving as a microgravity indicator, rose from under the astronauts’ seats once they reached orbit. The capsule’s separation occurred just after Falcon 9’s first stage booster returned back to Earth for landing on SpaceX’s “Of Course I Still Love You” drone-ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crew-2 marks SpaceX’s third astronaut mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the agency’s public-private initiative to revive its human spaceflight capabilities after a nearly 10-year dependence on Russian rockets. It’s the second of six operational missions SpaceX is contracted to fly under that program, which awarded the company $2.6 billion in 2014 to develop and fly Crew Dragon. SpaceX’s first crewed mission in May 2020, carrying Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, counted as a test flight.

The Crew-2 mission marked another reusability milestone for SpaceX, which has launched and reused dozens of Falcon 9 rockets and uncrewed Dragon capsules in the past. This mission was the first to reuse a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule for flying humans, a capability NASA approved as a modification to SpaceX’s contract last year. That spares SpaceX and NASA the time and money that otherwise would’ve been spent building new capsules for each mission.

The Endeavor capsule went through light refurbishment at SpaceX’s facilities in Cape Canaveral — nicknamed “Dragonland” — after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico last year with Hurley and Behnken inside. Most of the hardware on the capsule remained, but its thermal shielding, parachutes and some internal fuel valves, were swapped for new ones.

Accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts and NASA’s Mark Vande Hei, who all launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket on April 9th, Crew-2’s stay aboard the ISS will make for an 7-person crew in space for the next several months. During their stay, the crew will conduct an array of microgravity science experiments. The Crew-2 astronauts’ science efforts will center on a cassette-sized device containing human cells to study how those cells respond to various drugs and health conditions in microgravity.

The increased crew size means other science experiments, including a few projects tracking how plants grow and behave in space, will also see some progress. “It’s like a party up there,” said Annmarie Eldering, a project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, a device astronauts will use to measure carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. “When you get all those measurements from space, in the same time, same place, it’s really powerful for science,” Eldering said Friday morning in a live NASA broadcast.

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