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SpaceX Crew-2 reaches orbit, with Elon Musk’s company launching 10 astronauts in under a year

SpaceX launched a congregation of astronauts for NASA early on Friday morning, with Elon Musk’s company now having sent 10 astronauts to organize in under a year.

The Crew-2 mission, the company’s second operational crew launch for NASA and its third to date, reached encircle after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:49 a.m. ET. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket nick c accomplished the four astronauts to space in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour.

The launch marked multiple new triumphs for SpaceX, with the company reusing both a rocket and a capsule for the mission, as well as surpassing the total number of astronauts fired to space under the Mercury program that began in 1958.

In this handout provided by NASA, Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk watches the catapult of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the balcony of Operations Support Building II carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASAs SpaceX Crew-2 function with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Expedition Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide onboard on April 23, 2021 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Point Canaveral, Florida.

NASA | Getty Images

“It was just spectacular,” acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk asseverated after the Crew-2 mission launched. “Our partnership with SpaceX has been tremendous.”

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule — conduct NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet of France — is on its way to the Ecumenical Space Station. The mission is scheduled to dock with the ISS about 24 hours after launch, at around 5:10 a.m. ET on Saturday.

“We’re precisely glad to be back in space, and we’ll send our regards to Crew-1 when we get there,” Kimbrough said, speaking from the spacecraft after the fire.

The Crew-2 team will perform a full duration mission on the ISS, spending about six months on board. The four last will and testament join the Crew-1 astronauts, who launched in November, before the latter team’s Crew Dragon capsule Resilience undocks and turns to Earth.

Acting NASA Adminstrator Steve Jurczyk (L hidden) and SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk (C) represent with NASA astronaut Bob Benkhen (R) before Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Place Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, depart the Neil A. Armstrong Undercover agents and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-2 mission launch, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Align Center in Florida.

Gianrigo Marletta | AFP | Getty Images

After the launch, SpaceX also landed the booster of its Falcon 9 go through the roof, which is the large, lower section of the rocket. This Falcon 9 rocket booster previously launched the Crew-1 commission in November, and SpaceX plans to continue using it to launch future missions.

“Thrilled to be part of advancing human spaceflight and looking forward to effective beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars, and helping make humanity a spacefaring civilization,” Musk said during a post-launch crush conference.

SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and fine-tuned its Falcon 9 rocket under NASA’s Commercial Body program, which provided the company with $3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.

Commercial Team is a competitive program. NASA also awarded Boeing with $4.8 billion in contracts to develop its Starliner spacecraft — but that capsule stay puts in development due to an uncrewed flight test in December 2019 that experienced significant challenges.

In this handout representative provided by NASA, (L-R) ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Reconnaissance Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Movements and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the SpaceX Crew-2 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Time Center on April 23, 2021, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA | Getty Images

Crew-2 represents the second of those six professions for SpaceX, with NASA now benefiting from the investment it made in the company’s spacecraft development.

NASA emphasizes that, in adding up to giving the U.S. a way to send astronauts to space, SpaceX offers the agency a cost-saving option. The agency expects to pay $55 million per astronaut to fly with Group Dragon, as opposed to $86 million per astronaut to fly with the Russians. NASA last year estimated that have planned two private companies compete for contracts saved the agency $20 billion to $30 billion in development costs.

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