30 May 202, SpaceX launched its first human crew to space for NASA on the company’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft.
After spending nearly a full day in orbit, the two passengers onboard SpaceX’s vehicle, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, attempted to dock with the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has an automatic docking system, which uses a series of sensors and cameras to help the vehicle approach the ISS and then grab on to an existing docking port. The Crew Dragon successfully tested out this technique last year when SpaceX launched a test version of the vehicle to the ISS without a crew on board. But this time, the Crew Dragon will carry very precious cargo.
NASA is providing round-the-clock coverage of the Crew Dragon’s mission right now.
SpaceX makes history as it’s the first private company sending astronauts into orbit.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history on Saturday (May 30) after becoming the first private company to successfully send astronauts into orbit.
The launch was important also because it was NASA’s first human spaceflight departing from US soil in nearly a decade.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are expected to reach the International Space Station after a 19-hour journey.
They will then spend one to four months there, before guiding their capsule to a splashdown in the Atlantic.
The Falcon 9 lifted off at 21.22 CET from Cape Canaveral after a first attempt failed on Wednesday because of the threat of lightning.
US President Donald Trump attended the liftoff, which was also watched by nearly 4,000 people at the Kennedy Space Center.
Forecasters had put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for the new liftoff of the 270-foot.
SpaceX and NASA monitored the weather not just at Kennedy Space Center, where rain, thick clouds, and the chance of lightning threatened another postponement, but all the way up the Eastern Seaboard and across the North Atlantic to Ireland.
Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take US astronauts to and from the space station.
NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to taxi astronauts to and from the space station, under contracts totaling $7 billion.
Both companies launched their crew capsules last year with test dummies.
SpaceX’s Dragon aced all of its objectives, while Boeing’s Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and was almost destroyed because of software errors.
As a result, the first Starliner flight carrying astronauts isn’t expected until next year.