The mission is manned by four astronauts and the journey is expected to last almost 24 hours.
“We wish you a great mission, good luck and enjoy your trip.”
Those were the words of the SpaceX team speaking to the Crew-2 mission minutes before the successful liftoff this morning (April 23).
The launch took place at 5.49 am ET (9.49 am UTC) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will take the team of four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The trip will take almost 24 hours to complete.
The spacecraft, comprising the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket, was originally due to launch yesterday, but was delayed due to weather.
– NASA (@NASA) April 23, 2021
The mission marks the third crewed flight into orbit under NASA’s partnership with the private space company SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk.
Last year, SpaceX conducted a demonstration mission to the ISS with two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
In November 2020, NASA sent four astronauts to the ISS in the Dragon Crew First Operational Mission. They are expected to return home on April 28.
Today’s successful launch also marks the first time a recycled rocket and capsule has put a crew into orbit.
Both the Dragon capsule and the Falcon rocket for this mission have been fired once before. The Dragon capsule launched the first SpaceX crew last May, while the rocket lifted the second group of astronauts, who are still on the space station.
Each capsule is designed to be launched at least five times with a crew. SpaceX and NASA are in the process of evaluating how many times a Falcon can safely launch astronauts.
Today’s Crew-2 team consists of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Interestingly, McArthur, who is married to Behnken, was sitting in the same seat in the same capsule as her husband during the test flight last year.
Once aboard the ISS, Crew-2 astronauts will spend time researching medical technology, human health, and materials to benefit life on Earth.
Today’s SpaceX launch completes a week of historic firsts for NASA, following the first flight of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter. NASA’s Perseverance rover also experienced a historic moment, generating oxygen on Mars for the first time.