NASA and the private rocket company SpaceX sent four astronauts into orbit to the International Space Station late Wednesday, including a senior spacewalker and two young crew selected to join NASA’s future moon missions.

The launch vehicle manufactured by SpaceX consists of the Crew Dragon space capsule on top of the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. It rises from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida into the night sky. 30 points).

The launch of the Dragon spacecraft, named “Endurance” by the crew, was broadcast live on NASA TV in Cape Canaveral. NASA said that the intermittent rain and clouds over Cape Town earlier in the day made people doubt the prospect of the launch, but the weather was clear as the flight time passed.

Live video footage from NASA’s webcast showed the four crew sitting peacefully, strapped to the pressurized cabin of the sparkling white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, wearing white and black helmets a few minutes after lift-off. Flight suit.

According to launch commentators, within about 10 minutes of lift-off, the upper stage of the rocket sent the crew capsule into earth orbit. The reusable lower stage of the rocket was separated from the rest of the spacecraft and flew back to Earth on its own, landing safely on the landing platform floating on the Atlantic ship.

Three American astronauts and their European Space Agency crew will arrive at the space station on Thursday night and fly about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth for about 22 hours.

This flight marks the third time that NASA and SpaceX have joined forces to resume space launches from the United States after nine years of interruption at the end of the US Space Shuttle program last year. year 2011.

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“Crew-3” includes the two newly graduated astronaut class from NASA-44-year-old U.S. Air Force fighter and test pilot Raja Chari, and 34-year-old mission expert Kayla Barron, U.S. Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer.

The designated pilot and second in command of the team is the 61-year-old astronaut Tom Marshburn (Tom Marshburn), a doctor and a former NASA flight surgeon who has visited twice before The space station flies in space and has conducted four spacewalks. Matthias Maurer, a 51-year-old European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut from Germany, is a materials science engineer.

Chari, Barron, and Maurer made their first space flight during Wednesday’s launch, becoming the 599th, 600th, and 601th humans to enter space.

Chari and Barron are also one of the first 18 astronauts on NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission, which is aimed at more than half a century after the end of the Apollo mission to the moon Humans sent back to the moon.

NASA-SpaceX partnership

This is the fourth manned flight in 17 months by the public-private partnership between NASA and SpaceX. Sk is founded in 2002.

The first time was the trial run of two astronauts to the space station in May 2020, and then the first NASA-SpaceX operation “Crew-1” in November of that year.

“Crew-2” was launched to the space station in April this year and returned to Earth safely on Monday night. The splash and fall set a record of 199 days in orbit.

The latest mission also took place after a series of high-profile astronomical tourism flights, including SpaceX’s “Inspiration 4” launched in September, the first batch of civilians to be sent into orbit without professional astronauts. Crew.

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Earlier this month, 90-year-old actor William Shatner, known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series of the 1960s, boarded billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company The rocket ship launched by Blue Origin became the oldest person. People flying in space.

After the “Crew-3” team arrives at the space station, it will be welcomed by its three current passengers-two astronauts from Russia and Belarus and an American astronaut who shared the orbit of the Soyuz earlier this year.

© Thomson Reuters 2021