NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made history on Saturday, May 30, after they launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida towards the International Space Station (ISS). The history was two-fold, with it being the first launch from American soil since 2011, as well as being the first time that astronauts were sent into space on a private space ship.
Since 2011, international space agencies, including NASA, have been relying on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, created by the national space agency Roscosmos, to taxi astronauts to and from the ISS for cost reasons.
However, private companies such as SpaceX have now made it affordable for the likes of NASA to launch from home turf once again.
Now NASA has released a stunning image of the Crew Dragon approaching the ISS, from the point of view of the orbiting laboratory.
The relatively small capsule is seen in the NASA image heading towards the ISS, with Earth in the background.
According to NASA, the Crew Dragon is above Turkey in the image.
NASA said in a statement: “This image shows the Dragon Endeavour approaching the International Space Station on May 31, 2020, over part of southwestern Turkey—including the coastal city of Demre (gray area below the spacecraft)—in the background.
“Dragon Endeavour docked successfully with the ISS about nineteen hours after reaching orbit.
“It arrived at the station’s Harmony port while both were about 262 miles (422 kilometres) above the border of China and Mongolia.
“For the first time in nine years, NASA astronauts were launched from American soil on an American rocket, and for the first time in history, those astronauts flew on a commercially built and operated spacecraft.
“The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT on May 30, 2020, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The spacecraft was launched atop a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Behnken and Hurley named their spacecraft Endeavour as a tribute to the first space shuttle that both astronauts had flown aboard.
“Endeavour also flew the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle Program, launching in May 2011 from the same pad.”
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SpaceX has gone from strength to strength in its launch capabilities in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, going from 11 rocket launches in 2019 to a proposed 38 in 2020.
However, the Elon Musk-backed firm has no plans to halt its progress and is aiming to launch 70 rockets from its Florida sites by 2023.
Missions will include launching the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, including upping the ante in getting 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit.
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