Saturday May 31, at 10:16 a.m. EDT, a falcon 9 rocket lifted off from launchpad 39A at Kennedy space center in Florida. However, this was no ordinary falcon 9, this was the first ever one with a human crew on board! Making history for the first time ever on a commercial vehicle.
Pictured in this photo are NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who boarded the crew dragon spacecraft and have been launched to the international space station beginning their 2-3 months mission aboard the ISS.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a crewed spacecraft designed to fly astronauts on round trips to the International Space Station for NASA. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will carry up to four astronauts on regular taxi trips, but the capsule itself can fit up to seven people in all.
In 2014, NASA picked SpaceX as one of two companies (Boeing was the other) to fly astronaut taxi missions to the space station. Crew Dragon is a crewed version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, an unpiloted vehicle that has been making resupply flights to the station for NASA since 2012.
Let’s get back to the launch; this one marks the 85th launch of the falcon 9 rocket which has been the workhorse of spacex since it’s first launch in 2010 and has a reliability rate of more than 98%.
Through those previous 84 launches it was used to launch satellites to customers and unmanned supply missions to the ISS, but this 85th launch marked the first ever one with human crew on board and it made history as well by being the first launch of humans from american soil since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle in July 2015.
The completion of this mission by the end of August 2020 will mark the first splashdown landing of a crew vehicle since the last Apollo mission in 1975.
We can expect another crew dragon launch by late August or Early September 2020 as spacex will have finished its testing and certification for the dragon capsule and falcon 9 by then and will be ready to launch astronauts again for their full expeditions to the international space station.