- By Jennifer Prill
- (General Dispatch) – Elon Musk’s major company, SpaceX, executed the third flight in less than a year, placing four astronauts in orbit who embarked on their journey handling a reused capsule and rocket.
- Aiming to spend six months in an orbital laboratory at the conclusion of a 23-hour journey, the astronauts from the U.S., France and Japan will rendezvous at the International Space Station early Saturday morning.
- Dragon, the star capsule for the May 2020 launch, was reconsidered for this trip as clear proof, after years of study, of being an exceptionally competent spacecraft for NASA programs.
- SpaceX signed an approximately $3 billion contract with NASA to secure a lunar descent module, which will carry astronauts to the moon and later to Mars.
- McArthur, Kimbrough, Japan’s Hoshide and France’s Pesquet joined hands as they celebrated the first time in more than 20 years that U.S., Japanese and European astronauts have launched together.
- In an extraordinary scene for many, the crew lifted off before dawn. In the middle of the street, the public enjoyed the spectacle as the rocket’s plume of fire glowed against the dark background of the sky.
- The capsule launch did not proceed without first replacing valves and adding thermal protection, as well as fitting Endeavour, a parachute system named in memory of the space shuttle.
- For the launch, NASA found it necessary to restrict the number of spectators due to Covid-19, however, those who obtained private tickets for the maiden voyage were able to be present.