Achieving a new milestone, SpaceX has successfully launched its first operational space taxi flight for NASA on November 16th, 2020 from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. The first full-fledged taxi flight –The Falcon 9, carried four astronauts to the orbit and returned back to Earth in a drone-ship that landed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Crew Dragon Capsule – Resilience, carried four astronauts to the International Space Station – Mike Hopkins, a 51-year-old Air Force Colonel and test pilot who led the crew, Shannon Walker, a 55-year-old physicist, Victor Glover, a 44-year-old Navy pilot from California and Soichi Noguchi, a 55-year-old Astronaut and aeronautical engineer.
The mission was set on Saturday but due to the rough sea at the recovery zone, halted the launch of the Dragon Capsule.
This mission by SpaceX comes three months after the company completed a high-profile trial run. This is SpaceX’s first-ever crew rotation flight of a US commercial spacecraft, to the orbiting lab. With the NASA’s approval for regular crewed missions, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and The Dragon became the first US certified to carry humans after the Space Shuttle that retired in the year 2011.
The crew-1 mission is also the first NASA staffed mission that is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The space station will be pushed to maximum occupancy after these four astronauts will be joining two Russians and one American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan.
In a Tumblr post, Mike Hopkins says, “I hope people realize this isn’t just another launch- this is something a lot bigger.” “Hopefully it’s setting the stage, one of those first steps to getting us to the Moon and on to Mars”, he added.
This entire episode of the launch is being considered as the – “new era of commercially developed spacecraft – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – for sending Americans into orbit.”
Following the protocols of COVID-19, the crew members were in quarantined with their families since October. The guest list at the launch was also limited.