Four astronauts aboard the SpaceX crew dragon “Resilience” successfully launched into the International Space Station last night.
This is the first time the U.S. expects regular missions following a successful test flight in late spring.
Three Americans, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Sochi Noguchi of Japan exploded at 7.27pm (12.27am Irish time) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Soyuz ceased international reliance on Russia for a decade on rockets.
“This is a great day for the United States and a great day for Japan,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein told a post-launch press conference.
Twelve minutes after the liftoff, at an altitude of 200 km / h and a top speed of 27,000 km / h, the capsule was successfully detached from the second stage of the rocket.
“It was a ride,” said Hopkins, the mission commander from orbit.
SpaceX has confirmed that it is in the correct orbit to reach the RSS within 27 hours by 4am Irish time tomorrow.
The astronauts will carry two Russians and an American to the station for six months.
There was a problem with the cabin temperature control system, but it was fixed quickly.
“She is OK,” SpaceX president Glyn Shotwell told a news conference.
But “if we hand over the crew to NASA we can breathe a sigh of relief for 26 or more hours from now”.
SpaceX has broadcast live images from inside the capsule showing astronauts in their seats, something neither the Russians nor the Americans have done before.
NASA P Space X The crew-1 astronauts launched ET on November 15 at 7:27 p.m. After they docked @Space_stationThe crew will conduct science and maintenance before returning to Earth in the spring of 2021: https://t.co/jmjYOGWCYp pic.twitter.com/W4au3CtSoL
– NASA (AS NASA) November 16, 2020
US President-elect Donald Trump has described US President-elect Joe Biden’s launch on Twitter as “a testament to the power of science and what we can achieve with our innovation, ingenuity and determination.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the launch, along with his wife, Karen, described it as “the new era of human space exploration in the United States.”
The Crew Dragon capsule became the first spacecraft to be certified by NASA after the space shuttle about 40 years ago.
Its launch vehicle is the reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
At the end of its missions, the crew deploys dragon parachutes and launches them into the water as they did during the Apollo era.
SpaceX will launch two more crude flights for NASA in 2021, including one in the spring and four cargo refueling missions over the next 15 months.
NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing in 2011 after shutting down the Checkered space shuttle program, which failed to achieve its main goals of making space travel affordable and safe.
By 2024, the agency will spend more than $ 8 billion on the Commercial Crew program, hoping that the private sector will be able to maintain NASA’s needs in a “low orbit” so that it can focus on and return to the moon and be free. And then to Mars.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, overtook its old rival, Boeing, and dropped the program last year after failing to test its uncrowded starliner.
But Bridenstein said the success of SpaceX does not mean that the US will stop riding with Russia altogether.
The goal is to “exchange seats” between American astronauts and Russian astronauts.
He explained that it is necessary if both programs are disabled for a certain period of time.
The reality, however, is that space relations between the US and Russia have been one of the bright spots in bilateral relations in recent years.
Russia has said it will not participate in the Artemis program to return to the moon in 2024, saying the NASA-led mission is US-centric.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster Just Reed Instructions drone arrives! pic.twitter.com/HSFJKpR4Rm
– SpaceX (p SpaceX) November 16, 2020
Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency, repeatedly mocked SpaceX ” s technology, telling a state news agency that he was impressed by the crew’s dragon’s “rather rough” water landing, and that his agency was developing a reusable methane rocket 100 times. .
The fact that a national space agency forces itself to compare itself to a company validates NASA’s public-private strategy.
The advent of SpaceX has deprived Roscosmos of valuable revenue streams.
The cost of round-trips of Russian rockets continued to rise, costing about $ 85 million per astronaut, according to last year’s figures.
Presidential transitions have always been a difficult time for NASA, and Mr Biden’s ascent in January is no different.
Congratulations to NASA and SpaceX for today’s launch. This is a testament to the power of science and what we can achieve with our innovation, ingenuity and determination. I join all Americans and people of Japan in the journey of astronaut Godspeed.
– Joe Biden (oe Jobiden) November 16, 2020
The agency has not yet received the tens of thousands of dollars needed from Congress to finalize the Artemis program.
Bridenstein has announced that he will step down to allow the new president to set his own goals for space exploration.
So far, Biden has not commented on the 2024 timeline.
Democratic Party documents say they support NASA’s aspirations for the Moon and Mars, and also emphasize raising the agency’s Earth Science Division to better understand how climate change is affecting the planet.