Astronauts on-board the Crew Dragon capsule mounted atop a Falcon 9 rocket made history after successfully completing their journey from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS). The international crew of astronauts lifted off at 7:27 pm ET on Sunday from Launch Complex 39A at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They arrived at the ISS at 11:01pm Monday night for a docking that was as successful as the launch.
This was SpaceX’s first commercial crewed launch since the successful demo flight in May which brought astronauts back and forth to the ISS on a test mission prior to certification for full, human spaceflight.
On-board this mission were NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
“NASA is delivering on its commitment to the American people and our international partners to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective missions to the International Space Station using American private industry,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is an important mission for NASA, SpaceX and our partners at JAXA, and we look forward to watching this crew arrive at station to carry on our partnership for all of humanity.”
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, docked autonomously to the forward port of the ISS’s Harmony module at 11:01pm Monday night. Astronauts entered the ISS just a few hours later after checks were made to confirm the successful docking and trip from Earth.
“I could not be more proud of the work we’ve done here today,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, shortly after lift-off. “Falcon 9 looked great, Dragon was dropped off into a beautiful orbit about 12 minutes into the mission, and we’ll get more data as we go.”
This Crew-1 mission is the first of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This mission has several firsts, including being the first flight of the NASA-certified commercial system designed for crew transportation, which moves the system from development into regular flights, the first international crew of four to launch on an American commercial spacecraft, the first time the space station’s long duration expedition crew size will increase from six to seven crew members, which will add to the crew time available for research, and the first time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has licensed a human orbital spaceflight launch.
“It is an honor to have our Japanese astronaut launch on this Crew-1 Dragon as the first astronaut of the International Partner participating in the ISS program,” said Hiroshi Sasaki, JAXA vice president. “We look forward to having him conduct lots of science and demonstrate the technology, for here on Earth and for the future. I would also like to thank NASA and SpaceX for their tremendous effort to make this happen.”
The Crew-1 astronauts will join Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA, and station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, who arrived to the station October 14.