WATCH: SpaceX sends four astronauts to the International Space Station with “spectacular launch” in Florida
The launch marked what was only the second manned space launch from the United States since 2011.
Four astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station (ISS) following the successful launch of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday evening.
Three NASA astronauts - Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker – and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) blasted off in what NASA described as a “spectacular launch” as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.
— NASA (@NASA) November 16, 2020
Following a test flight in May, the Crew-1 mission is the second time the SpaceX spacecraft has taken astronauts to the space station and SpaceX, the company owned by Elon Musk, will operate a rotation of journeys to ISS on behalf of NASA going forward.
It also marks only the second time in just under 10 years that a manned space flight has launched from the United States following the retirement of the space shuttle programme in August 2011.
Members of the crew – who have named the spacecraft Resilience on account of the challenges presented by 2020 to date – will embark on a journey of approximately 27.5 hours.
They will rendezvous with the three members of the 64th expedition to the ISS (Expedition 64), which began late last month and begin a six-month mission on board.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 15, 2020
Commenting on the launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “This is a great day for the United States of America and a great day for Japan. We look forward to many more years of a great partnership — not just in low-Earth orbit but all the way to the Moon.”
“Everybody is so fired up; they’re so excited about this mission. But we’re not done yet; we need to keep going,” added Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters.
“That spacecraft is out there with those four precious crew members on it. And we’re going to get them safely to the International Space Station tomorrow.”
The Resilience craft is expected to dock with the space station at approximately 4am on Tuesday morning (Irish time); comprehensive coverage will be available on the NASA website.