The 5th SpaceX manned flight took off on a Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday. It marked the 5th SpaceX crewed space mission. The NASA collaboration mission sent two crew members, a veteran astronaut, and spacewalker, and a materials scientist from Germany to the Russian space station, the ISS.
The SpaceX-manufactured launch vehicle consists of a Dragon capsule powered by a 2-stage Falcon rocket. It blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 2100 hours eastern time. A reddish glow lighted up the dark sky as the 9 Merlin engines roared into life.
Space Dragon Endurance’s liftoff was cheered by mission controllers as people watched it live on NASA TV from Cape Canaveral. The scheduled flight was in doubt because of clouds and intermittent rain, but the skies cleared just before launch time. The 5th SpaceX mission has been affected by several delays related to inclement weather since the original liftoff window on October 31.
The flight marked the beginning of a scientific and research mission spanning 6 months. The astronauts will remain strapped inside for a day as it goes through a series of maneuvers in space and lines up for a link up with the International Space Station, 200 miles above the surface of the Earth.
Live footage from SpaceX showed the 4 strapped crew members inside the pressurized cabin inside their capsules in their helmeted black and white suits as the launch appeared flawless.
At 10 minutes past liftoff, the upper stage of the rocket sent the astronauts into orbit. The reusable lowed stage that separated from the main aircraft flew back and touched down successfully on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
As the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the rocket, an engineer from Earth welcomed the crew into orbit informing them that SpaceX Dragon will take over from here for the rest of the journey.
SpaceX Dragon Headed For International Space Station 250 Miles Above The Earth
The 3 Americans and the German scientist will hook up with the ISS stationed 250 miles above, after a flight lasting 22 hours.
SpaceX is headed by USAF combat jet and test pilot Raja Chari. The other members are mission specialist Kayla Barron, Naval submarine officer and nuclear scientist, and veteran astronaut Tom Marshburn, 61, who is the second-in-command and the designated pilot. He is also a medical doctor and a former flight surgeon. Matthias Maurer, 51, is a materials science engineer from Germany.
This is the 3rd operational space station team sent to orbit abroad the SpaceX Dragon capsule since SpaceX and NASA collaborated to resume space flights from the US. The flights mark the end of a 9-year break after the end of the American space shuttle program in 2011.