On Friday afternoon, it successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and reached outer space aboard a SpaceX rocket with four astronauts aboard as part of NASA’s Crew-2 mission. It was the third time Elon Musk’s space company had flown people.
The historical significance of the launch was that this time both the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and the Crew Dragon spacecraft were “used”, meaning that they both traveled into space earlier. Falcon delivered 9 astronauts for the first time to the International Space Station last November. The Crew Dragon shipped and successfully returned with two astronauts in May of last year.
The crew of four who had just been separated came from three countries. Shane Kimbro and Megan MacArthur may have been transported by US space agency astronauts, Akihiko Hoside, from the Japan Space Agency, while Thomas Pesquet represents the European Space Agency. The team is scheduled to perform a six-month scientific mission on the space station.
The participation of SpaceX, the commercial spaceflight company, put an end to NASA’s dependence on Russia after decades – until recently, only Roscosmos rockets could reach the International Space Station.