SpaceX launches NASA’s Crew-Three astronaut mission

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches the Crew 3 mission on November 10, 2021.

NASA television

SpaceX launched four astronauts from Florida to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday evening as the company conducts a steady pace of manned missions.

Known as Crew-3, NASA’s mission will bring the quartet to the ISS for a six-month stay in orbit of the research laboratory. SpaceX launched the astronauts in its Crew Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket.

“It was a great ride – better than we imagined,” said Raja Chari, NASA astronaut and Crew Dragon commander, after mission control started.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule on Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on November 9, 2021 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The launch marks SpaceX’s third operational crew launch to date for NASA and the first through the latest addition to their Crew Dragon capsules, dubbed Endurance by Crew 3 astronauts. The Crew 3 mission brings the number of astronauts SpaceX launched to 18.

The mission carries three Americans and one German: NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron as well as the astronaut of the European Space Agency, Matthias Maurer. This is the first space flight for three crew members: Chari, Barron and Maurer.

SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and refined its Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which provided the company with $ 3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.

Commercial Crew is a competitive program, and NASA has also awarded Boeing $ 4.8 billion in contracts to develop its Starliner spacecraft. However, Boeing’s capsule remains in development due to an unmanned flight test in December 2019 which brought great challenges.

Crew-3 marks the third of these six missions for SpaceX, with NASA now benefiting from the company’s investments in spacecraft development.

NASA emphasizes that SpaceX offers the agency, in addition to the USA, the possibility of sending astronauts into space, cost saving option as. The agency expects to pay $ 55 million per astronaut who flies on Crew Dragon, as opposed to $ 86 million per astronaut who flies on a Russian spaceship. NASA estimated last year that two private companies were competing for contracts saved the agency between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion in development costs.

The SpaceX Crew 3 astronauts stand on the transporter in front of the stack of Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 in the SpaceX horizontal processing facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 26, 2021.

SpaceX

Endurance is a new Crew Dragon capsule that is debuting for this mission. Previously, the capsules Resilience and Endeavor have flown astronauts, and SpaceX expects to add a fourth Crew Dragon early next year.