In a landmark event in commercial space exploration, a SpaceX rocket launched four astronauts – three from the United States of America and one from Japan – into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently.
The Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule provided by SpaceX, founded by maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk, was launched in this mission called Crew-1, which is the first of six crewed missions of NASA in collaboration with Space X.
The primary objective of these missions is to make space easily accessible in terms of cost so that crew and cargo can be transported easily and effectively, facilitating more scientific research.
“This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science, and more commercial opportunities,” NASA said of such missions.
Crew-1 was due to be launched on 14th November but was postponed due to poor weather conditions.
The four astronauts are Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi from the Japanese space agency. They will stay on the International Space Station (ISS) for a period of six months and will join two Russians – Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov – and one American astronaut – Kate Rubins – on board. While Hopkins is the commander of the spacecraft, Glover is the pilot and Walker and Noguchi are mission specialists.
“The big milestone here is that we are now moving away from development and test and into operational flights. And in fact this operational flight was licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. So this is a truly a commercial launch,” said Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
SpaceX has signed contracts to the tune of $3 billion with NASA to develop commercial astronaut taxi service. NASA also has a similar collaboration with the Boeing aerospace company.
This mission is sure to usher a new era in space travel. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.0