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.

Watch NASA’s first video of a Mars touchdown with rover Perseverance

An image from the video captured by multiple cameras when NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA on Monday released a unique video of a spacecraft landing on another planet when multiple cameras captured their Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars.

The US space agency Endurance landed on the red planet last week after more than six months of travel from Earth.

The Perseverance rover was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and is the most technologically advanced robot ever sent to Mars. The agency plans to spend nearly two years on the plutonium-powered endurance exploring the surface. NASA spent around $ 2.4 billion to build and launch the Perseverance mission. Another 300 million US dollars to land and operate the rover on the surface of Mars.

Perseverance also has a small helicopter called Ingenuity with which NASA plans to attempt the first flight on another planet.

Engineers observe the first test drive for NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on December 17, 2019.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

The rover, about the size of a small car, weighs about a ton and is 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet high. It has a robotic arm that reaches about seven feet, the end of which has a robotic hand that has a camera, chemical analyzer, and rock drill. Perseverance is nuclear powered and has a plutonium generator supplied by the US Department of Energy to generate power for its pair of lithium-ion batteries.

Perseverance traveled 293 million miles to reach Mars after launching from Florida on July 30 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

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