SpaceX made history as it launched four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on the first operational mission, Crew-1, under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Today, November 15, NASA and SpaceX worked together to conduct the vital flight, the second crewed mission launched from American soil since 2011. SpaceX officially returned human spaceflight capabilites to the United States.
The Crew-1 members are: NASA Astronaut Michael Hopkins who is Crew-1 mission Commander. NASA Astronaut Shannon Walker, she is a Mission Specialist alongside with Soichi Noguchi who works for Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and NASA Astronaut Victor Glover who will be Crew-1 Pilot -- It is his first flight to space. NASA and SpaceX teams helped Crew-1 get ready, as they put on their SpaceX-made spacesuits for the historic 27 hour voyage to the space station.
Wearing their stylish white and black spacesuits, the astronauts left the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building where teams helped each inside their suits. They took the elevator down the building and exited through a pair of double doors, where Tesla Model X cars with wing doors waited to transport them to Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
As the crew walks out of the historic @NASAKennedy doors, they are greeted by their families in a socially-distanced manner before they head to Launch pad 39A. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/6NlkUasZFl— NASA (@NASA) November 15, 2020
The astronauts looked happy and waved as they rode the Tesla vehicles down to the launchpad. During their 20-minute ride to Pad 39A, the astronauts listened to their favorite music.
Once Crew-1 arrived to the launch pad, they climbed the launch pad tower towards the Crew Access Arm hallway that leads to the Crew Dragon spacecraft's entrance atop the 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket. The four astronauts rode the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft and crews helped them buckle up.
"No simulator on Earth can prepare you for what it's like to ride a rocket into space." @NASAKennedy center director and former astronaut @Astro_CabanaBob reacts to the crew getting situated for liftoff. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/Z5n6iOEkn4— NASA (@NASA) November 15, 2020
On Sunday evening at around 7:27 p.m. EST the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Pad 49A, lighting up the night sky with its nine Merlin 1D engines --officially igniting a new era in American human spaceflight. The Astronauts were successfully launched into Low Earth Orbit where Dragon Resilience will ferry them for over twenty hours towards the space station. The spacecraft is expected to dock to the station's Harmony module on Monday night at approximately 11:00 p.m. EST.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/Unf1ScdVFB— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 16, 2020
At around nine minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage rocket booster that propelled Crew Dragon Resilience to orbit returned from space, the booster landed on the Just Read The Instructions autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX states Falcon 9 rocket "was designed for maximum reliability and is the first orbital class rocket capable of reflight." Reusing rocket boosters significantly decreases the cost of spaceflight. SpaceX plans to use the Crew-1 mission booster on an upcoming astronaut launch.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship! pic.twitter.com/HSFJKpR4Rm— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 16, 2020
NASA will continue to share Live broadcast of the Crew-1 astronauts' 27-hour voyage to the space station. Coverage will be continuous through Monday as Dragon docks to ISS. Today at 9:30 p.m. EST. NASA and SpaceX representatives will host a postlaunch news conference. You can watch the mission Live in the video below.
WATCH IT LIVE!
November 16, Monday
11 p.m. EST - Docking of the SpaceX “Resilience” Crew Dragon and the Crew-1 Crew to the International Space Station - Hawthorne, Calif./Johnson Space Center
Novemeber 17, Tuesday
1:40 a.m. EST - Welcoming Ceremony for the SpaceX “Resilience” Crew Dragon Crew-1 Crew at the International Space Station (Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, Soichi Noguchi) - Hawthorne, Calif./Johnson Space Center
2 a.m. (approximately) - SpaceX Crew-1 Mission post-docking news conference with senior NASA and JAXA officials
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.