SpaceX launched a crew of four astronauts on the first operational mission (Crew-1) launched aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. A Falcon 9 rocket propelled Crew-1 to orbit from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 15. The spacecraft transported NASA Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the International Space Station (ISS). Crew-1 joined Expedition 64 crewmembers for a six-month-long stay at the orbiting laboratory.
Astronaut Hopkins is serving as SpaceX Crew-1 Mission Commander. On Friday, he was sworn in as the newest member of the United States Space Force from onboard the Space Station. “Today, you will be the first... Space Force astronaut, that will be living space,” General John Raymond, the Space Force's Chief of Space Operations said to Hopkins during the swearing in. “I know you have served many, many years in the United States Air Force and this is a day not to be taken lightly. We greatly appreciate you volunteering to come over to be in the United States Space Force.” Hopkins became the first NASA astronaut to serve in the Space Force.
Today #USSF made history at the #SpeedofSpace when we transferred Col. Mike Hopkins from @usairforce to @SpaceForceDoD! @Astro_illini we are beyond excited that you are our 1st astronaut & we welcome your wife Julie & your sons to our Space Force family! #SemperSupra https://t.co/hsY68HOkWC— Gen. Jay Raymond (@SpaceForceCSO) December 18, 2020
On Friday U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence announced Space Force members will be known as “Guardians.” Hopkins served the U.S. Air Force for 27 years, he voluntarily transferred to the Space Force and became the first ‘Guardian’ in space. The agency held a virtual ceremony while Hopkins was orbiting Earth. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard joined Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Chief of Space Operations General Jay Raymond from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the ceremony. “This unique venue for Mike’s transfer ceremony today highlights the decades-long partnership between the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,” Bridenstine said. “Although our missions remain distinct and different, our partnership has successfully allowed our nation to boldly explore the vast expanses of space and expand humanity’s scientific knowledge. NASA is proud to have service members from all branches of the military serving as civilian astronauts for over 60 years,” he stated.
Today, after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public, we can finally share with you the name by which we will be known: Guardians. pic.twitter.com/Tmlff4LKW6— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) December 18, 2020
“It is my honor, on behalf of the president of the United States, to announce that henceforth, the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as guardians,” Vice President Pence says at the force’s 1st birthday celebration pic.twitter.com/YWMIfbI8es— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) December 18, 2020
Hopkins, floating inside the space station's Japanese Kibo laboratory module with a large Space Force flag hanging behind him, said that he was ready “to make the leap” just before reciting the oath of enlistment. “You also got the award for the best dressed astronaut on orbit, too. Love your shirt!” said Raymond, in reference to Hopkins' wearing a T-Shirt featuring U.S. Space Force logo. After completing the transfer, Hopkins expressed his gratitude to his wife, Julie, and to the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Barbara Barrett, who joined Raymond at NASA Headquarters for the ceremony. Hopkins described his time in the Air Force as “an incredible experience,” stating its an honor to join the Space Force. –“I cannot say thank you enough for giving me an opportunity to join the newest branch of the military and also to join a unique, elite team that is going to be making history,” Hopkins told Raymond.
“The military sends its best people to the NASA astronaut program,” Raymond responded. “And Hopkins, you are one of the nation’s best. We are beyond excited to make you the first astronaut in our Space Force, and to welcome your wife Julie, and your sons, Ryan and Lucas, to our Space Force family. Today, you are beginning a new journey with the nation’s newest service.” You can watch the ceremony in the video below.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX/NASA
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.