In another historic milestone, Elon Musk owned SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon docked at the ISS and its 4 astronauts are aboard the International Space Station. The event is historic as this is the first time a reused capsule reached ISS with the help of a reused Falcon 9 rocket.
The astronauts also made history as it was the first time SpaceX took astronauts from 3 different space agencies (NASA from USA, ESA from Europe and JAXA from Japan).
Earlier last year, SpaceX conducted the demonstration mission successfully in which two NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley took part. In August, 2020, the two men returned back on Earth as their capsule dove straight into the Atlantic Ocean carrying Bob and Doug.
Later in 2020, the company conducted its first operational mission for the Crew Dragon spacecraft which had 4 astronauts onboard. The mission was successful and the crew of astronauts are on board the International Space Station currently. The Crew-1 astronauts will be returning to Earth sometime next week.
Some background about SpaceX’s Dragon
The Dragon is fully capable of taking 7 passengers from Earth and beyond and return back. It is currently the world’s only private spacecraft that is capable of taking and returning huge amounts of Cargo from and to Earth. Moreover, it is the first private craft which is able to take humans to the International Space Station that’s currently orbiting the earth.
Who are the Crew-2 astronauts that boarded the ISS?
Akihiko Hoshide, JAXA
A Japanese astronaut from Japan’s JAXA space agency, Mr. Hoshide prior to this was also the member of the crew that was in Discovery Shuttle in 2008. Moreover, Mr. Hoshide had spent 4 months on International Space Station back in 2012.
Shane Kimbrough, NASA
The 53-year American native is also the commander of the Crew-2. Prior to this, Shane made a trip to the space in the Endeavour space shuttle in 2009. Moreover, he has spent over 6 months on the International Space Station from October ‘16 to April ‘17.
Dr. K. Megan McArthur, NASA
She is an oceanographer, engineer and a NASA astronaut among many other feather in her cap. The 49-year-old capsule communicator is the current pilot of the mission. In May 2009, she flew from Atlantis space shuttle. The mission was to carry out upgrades at the Hubble Space Telescope. One interesting thing to note is that McArthur is Bob Behnken’s spouse. Behnken, as we reported above, was one of the 4 astronauts who traveled to ISS in a SpaceX capsule in 2020.
Thomas Pesquet, ESA
French astronaut Pesquet had previously taken the trip to the space in 2016 and spent 6 months at the International Space Station. He was the 10th French astronaut to have taken the trip to space after a 9-year gap. During his trip to the space, Mr. Pesquet conducted over 50 scientific experiments. Moreover, he was part of the group that made the record of most number of hours spent working in space.
SpaceX Crew-2 launch: As it happened
Elon Musk bids astronauts farewell
After all the astronauts suited up, they were bid farewell by their boss, billionaire-innovator Mr. Elon Musk. The astronauts were given clearance by the SpaceX engineer who said “things were looking good”.
T minus 3 hours
3 hours to the liftoff, the astronauts sat in a Tesla X SUV. The car drove them to the spacecraft’s launchpad. The astronauts bid their families a socially distanced farewell.
T minus 2 hours 30 minutes
About 2 hours and 30 minutes before the launch, the crew was already on board the Crew Dragon capsule. The mission commander and the pilot were the first to board, followed by the flight engineer and Crew-2 specialist.
T minus 45 minutes
About 45 minutes before the launch, SpaceX loaded the propellent in the rocket. The countdown was initiated and the space commander said, “Off the Earth, for the Earth, Endeavour is ready to go”. The astronauts for a few minutes held each other’s hands.
After the Dragon capsule reached the Earth’s orbit, the space commander was heard saying, “It’s great to be back in space.”
SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts docks Dragon to the International Space Station
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) April 24, 2021
SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts arrive at the International Space Station
"Endeavour arriving!" Welcome to the @Space_Station, Crew-2!
Their arrival means there are now 11 humans aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number not seen since the space shuttle era. Hugs abound. pic.twitter.com/uSwW3JFl6K
— NASA (@NASA) April 24, 2021
What will the Crew-2 astronauts do on the International Space Station?
Before we tell you what the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts will do, we should remind our readers that ISS has seen several astronauts living there since the past 20 years.
The Crew-2’s mission will be to work on the space stations.
They will be conducting scientific experiments and maintaining and upgrading the station. The astronauts are also asked to exercise for 2 hours a day. This helps them to counter the consequences of living in space for a long time such as bone density deterioration and muscle atrophy.