As part of NASA’s commercial crew program, SpaceX just launched its 4th astronaut mission. On 10th November at 9:03 pm EST, Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon Capsule took to the skies. The launch happened at Kennedy Space Center. The launch kicked off SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission. The mission will carry four astronauts European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer and NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, on a 22-hour flight to the ISS.
There was a series of weather-related delays. The launch countdown proceeded smoothly. The crew was relaxed and ready for the action as the minutes ticked away. According to NASA scientists, it is a beautiful launch, and it was another great experience seeing those four take off. Once the Falcon 9’s 1st stage engines ignited, a glow from the engines lit up the night sky. The launch of Crew-3 in the Florida market is the 25th launch of the year and the 24th so far this year for SpaceX.
The Dragon Crew Capsule was brand new. Crew-3 is on a six-month mission to ISS. The launch happened just 12 days after it was initially planned to launch. The rocket’s flight path, along with poor weather, pushed back the launch a few days. It was delayed further by minor medical issues with one of the astronauts. The Crew-2 was back on 8th November. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is in charge of acquainting the Crew-3 crew members with the ISS.
In the launch of Crew-3, the only concern was the weather. Teams from NASA and SpaceX met a day before to discuss the mission before giving the official go-ahead for launch. During the Crew-2 landing, one of the Dragon’s main parachutes was a little slow to deploy. This raised concern for the Crew-3 flight. NASA and SpaceX, in a report, said that the chute worked as expected and the rate of descent occurring as expected. The four Crew-3 astronauts traveled to the pad riding in white Tesla Model Xs approximately three hours before launch.
Upon arrival, the astronauts took an elevator to the crew access arm. This stands approximately 265 feet above the launchpad and then climbs into the capsule. The astronauts then armed the Crew Dragon’s abort’s system after a series of system checkouts. Forty-five minutes before liftoff SpaceX then began fueling the rocket with supercooled liquid oxygen and kerosene. SpaceX has put 18 people into orbit in less than two years, including four private citizens. Among the five flights, four of them are part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This program contracts private companies to build spacecraft capable of ferrying astronauts to and from the ISS.
NASA relied on its fleet of space shuttles to transport astronauts to space and help build the ISS. More than 20 years from now, the ISS has been continuously occupied. NASA has planned to hand over the reins of low Earth orbit to the private industry before the ISS retires. It has given the responsibility to ferry agency astronauts to and from space to Boeing and SpaceX companies.