Elon Musk's SpaceX sent four humans into space on successful liftoff of Falcon 9 rocket
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Elon Musk's private space company SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket this Friday morning with four human crew members on board . The astronauts , who belong to three different space agencies, are heading for the International Space Station (ISS) .
The Falcon 9 rocket took off at 05:49 a.m. (local time), from platform 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon! pic.twitter.com/g6Oi8qwU2Y- SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 23, 2021
On board the Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule are American astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan's Akihiko Hoshide and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet. The latter is the first member of the European Space Agency (ESA) to participate in a SpaceX mission.
The crew is ready for liftoff pic.twitter.com/orKr0VcFFT- SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 23, 2021
Upon launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth for an upright unmanned landing. For its part, the Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station this Saturday at 9:10 am (GMT) .
Two hours after docking, the capsule hatch will open and the Crew-2 mission team will spend a few days with the Crew-1 astronauts and three other cosmonauts. In that span, the ISS will house eleven people in total, one of the largest groups ever to gather at the station.
Four days later, the Dragon capsule, which carried astronauts to the ISS, will return to Earth.
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The four astronauts will spend approximately six months on the International Space Station. There they will carry out several scientific experiments in microgravity conditions, in areas such as health, materials engineering and technology applied to medical treatments.
SpaceX already had experience in manned launches
This is the third manned mission launched by SpaceX since the United States resumed inhabited flights into space last year, as part of a multi-million dollar contract with NASA .
The first mission, called Demo-2 , took off in May 2020 with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. This ended nine years of American dependence on Russian rockets to travel to the ISS.
The second mission of Elon Musk's company, Crew-1 , took place on November 16. The Falcon 9 rocket successfully carried NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker into space, as well as astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
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What makes Space X's Crew-2 mission so special?
One word: recycling . This is the first regular manned mission in which both the ship and the rocket are reused.
As mentioned, the Falcon 9 first stage rocket was used on the Crew-1 mission , while the Endeavor capsule carried the crew from the Demo-2 mission . Now, both return to space with the Crew-2 mission, proving that they can be reusable.
This is one of the greatest advances that Space X has made, since its technology makes it possible to reuse a good part of the space vehicles used in missions, which translates into enormous savings.
For example, the first stage of the Falcon 9 represents about 60% of the total cost of the rocket. By getting it back, the company can save a lot of money on each mission.
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