The SpaceX–Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:49 E.T. from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX launched its third crewed rocket, sending four more astronauts into orbit marking the first time the company achieved the takeoff with a recycled capsule and rocket. The rocket is set to automatically dock with the International Space Station [ISS] about 24 hours later and joining an earlier group of astronauts who traveled there on SpaceX’s first operational mission in November with three others on board.
The launch marks a number of first for SpaceX; the first time that two of the company’s Crew Dragon capsules are both docked at the ISS. The first time that the rocket has carried two international partners–Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s crew member, Akihiko Hoshide and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency. They join Americans crew members, Shane Kimbrough-the mission’s commander and Megan McArthur -the spacecraft’s pilot. The crew will be stationed at the space station for a six-month mission.
It is also the first for both rocket and capsule used in Friday’s launch which were reused from earlier launches in last November, and the capsule used in last May’s test launch. The mission code named Crew-2 originally scheduled for lift off on Thursday, but was postponed due to poor weather conditions.
Billionaire Elon Musk, entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors 2003 and SpaceX (2002) said at a news conference, “I think we are at the dawn of a new era of space exploration following SpaceX lift off. After founding SpaceX 19 years ago, Musk said that he had only recently became convinced that space hardware could be successfully reused, cutting the costs of launch, which he added, “That’s the gateway to heavens.”
Musk reflects on the moment when the capsule entered orbit, the first stage of the rocket had successfully detached and completed its descent landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Director Bob Cabana of Kennedy Space Center said of the return to regular human space flight. “All I can say is, it’s about time, he added. It’s awesome to have regular cadence again.”
The launched marked a significant milestone for Mr. Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp [official name of the spacecraft company] as it moves to prove thesis of its strategy: That it can save on the cost of space travel by reusing the rocket and capsule components of a launch after each flight. Carissa Christensen, founder and chief executive of Bryce Space & Technology [a consulting firm] adds, “We are essentially witnessing the creation of a new industry, and every early success is important to its growth path.”