Space X has successfully launched this Friday, after a postponement due to bad weather, its third manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The project represents an important support for private collaboration with international space agencies – the European one (ESA) participates for the first time with the trip of an astronaut – and is a milestone in the reuse of a rocket and a capsule, a strategy that allows lower the cost of space exploration. The rocket Falcon 9 will return to Earth for an upright landing on an unmanned ship and the capsule Crew Dragon It is scheduled to dock at the ISS.
The mission, named Crew-2, has successfully taken off from platform 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, the first European to fly in a capsule Crew Dragon from SpaceX. Pesquet travels accompanied by the Americans Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and the Japanese Akihiko Hoshide. Pesquet will be followed by German Matthias Maurer and Italian Samantha Cristoforetti.
This launch is the third manned launch bound for the ISS in which Space X, the company selected by NASA to develop the space vehicles with which it wants to return astronauts to the Moon, is available.
The team of the Crew-2 will live on the ISS for a few days with the astronauts of the Crew-1, in addition to three other Russian cosmonauts. This launch is the third manned launch to the ISS with Space X, the company selected by NASA to develop the space vehicles with which it wants to return astronauts to the Moon.
The first mission, a test flight called Demo-2, took place last year and allowed NASA to break away from Russian rockets to fly astronauts to the ISS, a collaboration that was established after the end of the shuttle program.
“It’s always easier the third time you do it,” Daniel Forrestel, NASA launch integration manager, told AFP. “I would never want to describe space flight as routine. More familiar is a good way to describe it, ”he added.
The mission Crew-2 reuse the capsule of Demo-2 and the propeller Falcon 9, which has already been used in unmanned missions. Ahead of the launch, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen from Denmark told AFP that the mission was also a big step for Europe, which has called it Alpha by its own naming convention. “On the one hand, it means a lot, of course, that an astronaut goes to the International Space Station, but at the same time it is also another in a long list of missions,” he noted.
Collaboration between NASA, ESA and Space X is considered key in the joint program Sagebrush, with which it is intended to return to the Moon and have a support orbiter for human missions on the satellite.
The mission Crew-2 will carry out a hundred experiments over half a year. One of them is known as Tissue Chips, which uses different types of cells with which the aging of the immune system, kidney function and the loss of muscle mass in space will be studied. The mission also plans to maintain the solar panels.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.