November 15, 2020
…we’re not done yet…That spacecraft is out there is 4 precious crew members on it and we’re going to get them safely to the International Space Station tomorrow…
- Leuders said the launch signaled a “first” for agency partnerships (NASA with the FAA for this “commercial flight”), international partnerships (one of the astronauts is Japanese, and as the NASA administrator said, “there is no better partner to the U.S. for space exploration than Japan”), and commercial partnerships (NASA “hired” SpaceX as its transportation to space).
- 4 astronauts include: “Commander Mike Hopkins, an Air Force colonel…physicist Shannon Walker, Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover, the first Black astronaut on a long-term space station mission, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi, who became the first person in almost 40 years to launch on three types of spacecraft.”
- “If you look up the definition of ‘resilience,’ it means functioning well in times of stress or overcoming adverse events. I think all of us can agree that 2020 has certainly been a challenging year — a global pandemic, economic hardships, civil unrest, isolation. … We hope that it brings a smile to your face. We hope that it provides something positive in your lives and quite frankly we hope that it’s an inspiration, that it shows that when you work together there’s no limit to what you can achieve.” Commander Hopkins before the launch.
- NASA essentially is a customer of SpaceX – and NASA wants to be able to work with other private companies like Space X and Boeing as a way to lower the cost, and heighten the technology, of space exploration.
- The astronauts take just over 24 hours to get to the International Space Station and the mission is approximately 6 months, scheduled to return in April.
- What will they be doing? The astronauts, for example, will be collecting their own biological samples to help scientists on the ground study how dietary changes affect the body. The astronauts will also be growing radishes, the latest experiment to explore whether food can grown in space. (Red lettuce and mizuna mustard greens are among earlier foods that the astronauts have studied.) They will also test whether fungi can break apart asteroid rock and help extract useful metals — a scientific prelude to extraterrestrial mining operations, and a follow-up to a similar, successful experiment that used bacteria. NYT
- This is the first time the Dragon rocket held 4 people.
- Why It Matters: This is only the second time in ten years that American astronauts launched from American soil. The partnerships solidified with this launch is *thought* to be the beginning of more regular missions to space from U.S. soil.
Read about the Commercial Crew Program and learn more about the astronauts.
by Jenna Lee,