Nasa’s 1st full crewed flight using Elon Musk’s spaceship set for Halloween launch – with 4 astronauts on board craft
NASA has finally set a date for its first proper crewed flight from US soil aboard a SpaceX rocket.
Four astronauts will board a Crew Dragon spacecraft on October 31 on a trip to the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth’s surface.
The mission’s crew are (left to right): Nasa astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins, as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency[/caption]
The mission follows SpaceX’s successful Demo-2 test flight, which blasted astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS in May.
It was the first time astronauts launched from US soil in almost a decade, and marked California rocket maker SpaceX’s first crewed liftoff.
The upcoming launch was initially scheduled for October 23 but has now been pushed back by eight days, Nasa said in a blog post on Monday.
The flight was delayed to “deconflict” it with the scheduled arrival on October 14 of a three-person Soyuz crew at the space station, as well as the departure of a Russian Soyuz capsule from the ISS on October 21.
The launch was an historic event[/caption]
“This additional time is needed to ensure closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, ahead of the Crew-1 arrival,” Nasa said.
The mission’s crew are astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of Nasa and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
They will be carried to the station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Liftoff is scheduled for 2:40am local time – 6:40am in the UK – on October 31.
What is the ISS?
Here’s what you need to know about the International Space Station…
- The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
- Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
- It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
- Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
- Nasa uses the station to learn about living and working in space
- It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
- Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth
The team will stay on the ISS for six months, carrying out various science experiments and maintenance work.
“The launch will be the first time an international crew will fly aboard a Nasa-certified, commercially-owned and operated American rocket and spacecraft from American soil,” Nasa said.
Though astronauts have flown aboard a Crew Dragon capsule before, Crew-1 will mark the first “operational” mission – meaning it’s not a test flight.
The launch will also be the first time four astronauts have flown in the capsule at once, up from the two who flew the Demo-2 mission.
Demo-2 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on May 30 on an historic mission to the International Space Station.
The flight marked the first time astronauts have flown into orbit using a spacecraft built by a private company.
American Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley returned to Earth last month in the same SpaceX capsule they launched in.
Nasa said the mission will lay the groundwork for future manned flights to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX’s first aim was to build rockets that could autonomously land back on Earth and be re-used.
Musk hoped the technology would make flying and operating space flights far cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various international governments and companies.
The company took astronauts up to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists and astronauts to the Moon.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.
The US space agency last fired one of its own astronauts into space in 2011.
Nasa retired its astronaut-carrying space shuttles that year to make way for a new space exploration program aimed at sending man to asteroids and other deep-space targets.
However, multiple delays to its development schedule have left the space agency without a way to carry out manned space flights for years.
Nasa hopes to fill the gap with spacecraft launched by private companies such as SpaceX, owned by billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, run by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
Musk hopes to one day help set up a colony on Mars using a fleet of its reusable spacecraft, while Bezos is keen for humanity to move to huge space stations.
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In other news, SpaceX blew up a Starship rocket tank on purpose last week during a dramatic “pressure test”.
The company completed its second successful Starship test flight earlier this month.
Musk wants to send humans to Mars as early as 2024 aboard one of the huge rockets.
Are you excited for the SpaceX launch? Let us know in the comments!
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