Left Menu
Development News Edition

SpaceX, NASA set for first operational astronaut mission to space

SpaceX, the rocket company of high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, was due on Sunday to launch four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station, NASA's first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft. SpaceX's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, which the crew has dubbed Resilience, was set for liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:27 p.m. Eastern time (0027 GMT on Monday) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Reuters | Updated: 16-11-2020 05:37 IST | Created: 16-11-2020 05:37 IST
SpaceX, NASA set for first operational astronaut mission to space

SpaceX, the rocket company of high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, was due on Sunday to launch four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station, NASA's first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft.

SpaceX's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, which the crew has dubbed Resilience, was set for liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:27 p.m. Eastern time (0027 GMT on Monday) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Less than an hour before liftoff, weather forecasts improved to an 80% favorability for launch. Mission personnel left the launchpad, and the crew access arm - the walkway between the launch tower and rocket - retracted, setting the stage for the spacecraft's launch escape system to be armed and mission teams to start loading the Falcon 9 rocket with fuel.

An air leak caused an unexpected drop in capsule pressure less than two hours before launch, NASA officials said. But technicians said that they conducted a successful leak check, and that the scheduled launch was still on. The 27-hour ride to the space station, an orbiting laboratory some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday. But the launch was postponed for a day due to forecasts of gusty winds - remnants of Tropical Storm Eta - that would have made a return landing for the Falcon 9's reusable booster stage difficult, NASA officials said.

Mission preparations were under way Sunday afternoon as NASA officials pegged launch probability at 50%, maintaining plans to launch but monitoring wind and cloud formation near the rocket pad that could postpone the mission to Wednesday. The astronauts donned their custom white flight suits and arrived at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on schedule at 4:30 p.m. in three white Tesla SUVs, flanked by NASA and SpaceX personnel.

NASA is calling the flight its first "operational" mission for a rocket and crew-vehicle system that was 10 years in the making. It represents a new era of commercially developed spacecraft - owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA - for sending Americans into orbit. "This is the culmination of years of work and effort from a lot of people, and a lot of time," Benji Reed, SpaceX senior director of human spaceflight programs, told reporters on Friday. "We have built what I would call one of the safest launch vehicles and spacecraft ever."

A trial flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon in August, carrying just two astronauts to and from the space station, marked NASA's first human space mission to be launched from U.S. soil in nine years, following the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. In the intervening years, U.S. astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. The Resilience crew includes commander Mike Hopkins and two fellow NASA astronauts, mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker. They will be joined by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the U.S. shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.

Musk, the billionaire SpaceX chief executive who is also CEO of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc , will likely not be watching the liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center launch control room as usual, NASA officials said. Musk said on Saturday that he "most likely" has a moderate case of COVID-19. SpaceX and NASA have conducted contact-tracing and determined that Musk had not come into contact with anyone who interacted with the astronauts.

"Our astronauts have been in quarantine for weeks, and they should not have had contact with anybody," NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Friday. "They should be in good shape." NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop competing space capsules aimed at replacing its shuttle program and weaning the United States from dependence on Russian rockets to send astronauts to space.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

China: A savior for emerging markets or a poison pill?

... ...

Future of Urban Planning: Artificial Intelligence guiding the way

Advances in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help us understand our cities better and derive useful insights from real-time data collected through automated models....

Videos

Latest News

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks race to record highs, FX rises ahead of Yellen

Emerging market stocks surged to a record high on Tuesday as ultra-low interest rates and stimulus hopes brightened their prospects, while most currencies ticked higher as the dollar softened on uncertainty over U.S. policy. The MSCIs index...

Two UN peacekeepers killed in an ambush in Central African Republic

The attack took place some 17 kilometres about 11 miles from Bangassou, the capital of the Mbomou prefecture. UN peacekeepers had retaken control of the city on Friday, after it captured two weeks earlier by anti-government armed groups. ...

Govt wants to tire out farmers but they cannot be fooled: Rahul Gandhi

As the ninth round of talks between the Centre and farmers failed to resolve the deadlock over the three agriculture laws, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the government wants to tire out the protestors by engaging them over lo...

Need to increase R&D investment, leverage India's IT prowess for Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Trai

Increasing RD investment to expand technology development capabilities and leveraging Indian IT industrys prowess to serve requirements of Indian and global telecom players can help in moving towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat self-reliant India, ...

Give Feedback