SpaceX's Crew-1 mission launched NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi on a long duration voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, November 15, at 7:27 p.m. EST. Crew-1 lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was SpaceX's second crewed flight and the first operational mission under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
🚀 All for one, Crew-1 for all! NASA’s @SpaceX Crew-1 mission launched to the @Space_Station on Nov. 15, 2020, making it the first crew rotation mission of a commercial spacecraft. Relive the excitement, from launch through docking: https://t.co/ZF5hKPc792 pic.twitter.com/Ub7dMwCQ2q— NASA (@NASA) November 17, 2020
Crew-1 astronauts docked to the space station after a historic ~27 hour voyage. They arrived to the orbiting laboratory on November 16. The Dragon Resilience spacecraft successfully docked to the Space Station's Harmony module Monday night. They were welcomed aboard ISS by Expedition 64 Russian cosmonaut Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, alongside NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, who arrived at the station October 14 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
This week, the agency held a press conference in which Crew-1 astronauts discussed their journey to the space station from orbit. They shared their experience launching aboard SpaceX's spacecraft. The mission was NASA Astronaut Glover's first trip to space. As a former Navy Pilot he is used to high-speed flights, though launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket was an out-of-this-world experience. --"My brain is constantly trying to figure out where up is," Glover told reporters Thursday, as he described his experience aboard the Dragon spacecraft -- "The short answer is, it was awesome," he said with a smile. "I could sit here and tell you for the entire duration of this conference how great the ride was," Glover stated. "But the staging was dynamic. The second stage is much closer to our spacecraft, so you felt that it was much more up close and personal."
"And then when that engine cut off, and we're in orbit, I mean, it's surreal. I've seen tons of pictures, but you know, when I first looked out the window at the Earth, it's hard to describe. There are no words, there are no words to describe it. It was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime feeling," Glover added (video below).
NASA Astronaut Hopkins is serving as Crew-1 Dragon Commander, he shared that when they awaited liftoff aboard the spacecraft, they could hear the propellants pumping into the tanks below and "you can tell it wants to get off the ground," he said, "And it just leapt off the pad. [...] It was amazing. About 40 seconds into the flight, you throttle back (the engines) a little bit and you definitely notice that, but then when it was time to get going again, it really picked up and yeah, it was really moving." The separation of the rocket's first and second stages "is always pretty exciting, I think, on any rocket and this one is no different," Hopkins stated. "And then this slow, steady build up in Gs all the way up into orbit. We were all very excited. When we passed the hundred-kilometer point (marking the boundary of the lower atmosphere) we all said 'Welcome to Space' to 'Ike'." Astronaut Glover's crewmates call him "Ike" as a joke, the nickname is an acronym that stands for "I Know Everything."
JAXA Astronaut Noguchi is the only crewmember who has launched aboard three kinds of spacecraft. He launched aboard NASA's Space Shuttle and Russia's Soyuz launch system. When asked what spacecraft did he enjoy the most Noguchi said "the Dragon is the best, short answer." Dragon "really wanted to go to space," he said, "This feels like you are actually inside a dragon bringing us up to space, so that was quite a feeling."
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.