US Dragon crew launched to space station



Four astronauts have been launched from Florida to the International Space Station (ISS).

This is the first crew launch from US soil this year.

Americans Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur, Frenchman Thomas Pesque, and Japanese aviator Akihiko Hoshide are on track with a dragon capsule launched onto a Falcon 9 rocket.

They need to arrive at the space station on Saturday and start a six-month mission tour.

The lift-off occurred at 05:49 EDT (09:49 GMT; 10:49 BST) before dawn.

When the new crew arrives at the ISS, the high-flying outpost will have 11 auxiliary equipment, albeit for a short time.

The arriving team is making so-called direct deliveries to the Dragon Crew (Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi, Shannon Walker) before returning home next week.

We are now in an era of commercial American crew launches. Astronaut transportation to and from the space station is a service purchased from SpaceX by the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Nasa).

The California company will carry out launch date procedures at the Kennedy Space Center, prepare vehicles, and manage flights into orbit using controllers installed at the company’s headquarters in Florida and Hawthorne.

LR: Thomas Pesche, Megan MacArthur, Shane Kimbro, Akihiko Hoshide

LR: Thomas Pesche, Megan MacArthur, Shane Kimbro, Akihiko Hoshide

The Falcon rocket and dragon capsule used on Friday have flown before. This capsule, called Endeavor, was previously used in the historic Demo 2 mission last May. It was the mission of US astronauts to be launched from US soil for the first time in nine years after the Space Shuttle retired in 2011.

This latest flight rocket booster was used to dispatch Mike Hopkins and his team in November.

Hopkins and colleagues are known as “Crew 1” in the SpaceX / Nasa nomenclature. Kimbro commands “The Crew 2”.

The Friday launch is important from a European point of view. Thomas Pesche was the first astronaut from the European Space Agency (Esa) and flew on a commercial crew rotation mission.

“Today is an important start as we fly Thomas, but in the fall we will fly Matthias Maurer and next year we will be back here in Kennedy to fly Samantha Cristoforetti, so it’s a really great time for food,” Frank De Winne said. Said. , Former Space Station Commander and current ISS Program Manager at Esa.

While Nasa and her international partners operate the ISS, Americans continue to plan astronaut missions to the Moon later in the decade.

Last week, Nasa signed a contract with SpaceX to land the crew on the moon using the company’s starship vehicle, which is currently being prototyped.