With an on-time launch at 5:49 a.m. EDT this morning a Falcon 9 rocket launched four astronauts from three countries on the SpaceX Dragon Crew-2 mission.
“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” said NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “This is another important milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and our international partners at ESA and JAXA, and for the future of scientific research on board the space station. It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”
Onboard the mission to the International Space Station are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
The launch was from Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour, the name of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, is on its second mission. It will will dock autonomously at about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April 24 with the forward port of the space station’s Harmony module.
NASA said the “Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program” and has several firsts, including:
- First commercial crew mission to fly two international partners;
- First commercial crew handover between astronauts on the space station as Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronauts will spend about five days together on station before Crew-1 returns to Earth;
- First reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission –Crew Dragon Endeavour flew the historic Demo-2 mission and the Falcon 9 flew astronauts on the Crew-1 mission; and,
- First time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked to station at the same time.