SpaceX successfully launches four astronauts into orbit for ISS rendezvous

SpaceX succeeded launched four astronauts in orbit on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) and blocked the landing with the Falcon 9 first stage. The Crew-2 mission also achieved several new objectives in the process. This is the first to use both a recycled Falcon 9 first stage booster and a flight proven Dragon capsule. It’s also SpaceX’s first mission (and NASA’s first in 20 years) to use an international crew from three space agencies.

The launch lit up the night sky on a relatively calm and clear early morning in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first and second stage separations, orbital insertion, and the landing of stage 1 on the distant ship “Of course I still love you” all seemed to be nominally going. “Glad to be back in space for all of us,” said NASA astronaut, chief of mission Shane Kimbrough.

The first stage of Falcon 9 was previously used to propel the first SpaceX operational mission with four Crew-1 members on board. Meanwhile, the Crew-2 Dragon capsule is the same one that flew NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the ISS for SpaceX’s very first manned mission, Demo-2.

The four Crew-2 astronauts are Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, as well as Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA. All are space veterans, despite this being McArthur’s first trip to the ISS (she once completed a shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope). However, she will be sitting in the same seat that her husband, Behnken, flew to Demo-2.

They will relieve the four members of Crew 1 returning to Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew-1 Dragon capsule, likely around the end of April 2021. Self-docking is scheduled for tomorrow morning around 5:10 a.m. EDT.

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