SpaceX LAUNCHES ANOTHER CREW TO THE SPACE STATION DURING A RECORD YEAR

 SpaceX LAUNCHES ANOTHER CREW TO THE SPACE STATION DURING A RECORD YEAR

iol.co.za

On 27 April, the launch carried three American astronauts and one from Italy. The crew blasted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:52 am Eastern time for what is to be a six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory. And it came less than two days after the conclusion of the first mission to the station made up entirely of private citizens.

The majority of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches this year have carried the company’s Starlink satellites, which are used to beam the Internet to stations on the ground. SpaceX has been working feverishly to put up its satellite constellation, which stands at more than 2,000.

But taken together with its launches of people to the space station and the delivery of cargo there, SpaceX’s performance underscores the promise of commercial space flight and the success of CEO Elon Musk’s once-radical idea of reusing boosters that have flown before to cut the expense of space ventures.

“We are really in a golden era of space exploration,” Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said during a preflight news conference. He noted how Cape Canaveral and the Florida Space Coast, which were moribund after the space shuttle retired in 2011, have come back to life, as a number of companies develop new rockets and spacecraft.

“Think how the Cape has transformed,” he said. “Think about all of those abandoned launchpads out there on the Cape and how they are roaring back to life.”

The booster that blasted off made its fourth flight, the first time astronauts were carried to space on a rocket that had flown that often. The flight, known as Crew-4, is SpaceX’s fourth operational mission under Nasa’s Commercial Crew program.

The three NASA astronauts on the spacecraft, dubbed “Freedom,“ were Kjell Lindgren, the mission commander, and Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins, who are making their first trips to space. Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency, joined them. Watkins would become the first Black woman to live for an extended time in space.

The rest of the year promises to be just as busy. Musk, SpaceX’s founder, has said the company is aiming for 60 launches this year. While the company may not meet that milestone, it has some major missions planned, including another crew launch for NASA in September. Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur, is also hoping to fly another private mission to orbit by the end of the year.

Karabelo Moncho

Related post