News and Commentary

Four Astronauts Launch From U.S. Soil, Travel To ISS Aboard SpaceX Craft ‘Resilience’
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 15, 2020. - NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission is the first crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agencys Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are scheduled to launch at 7:27 p.m. EST on November 15, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. (Photo by Gregg Newton / AFP)
GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images

SpaceX launched four astronauts aboard a privately built craft late Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, marking the second time the company has sent American astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

The Falcon 9 Rocket launched around 7:30pm EST, carrying aboard three American astronauts Commander Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover and one Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, reports the Associated Press.

The four crew members are traveling aboard the Dragon capsule — which rests on top of the Falcon 9 rocket during launch, but later detaches from it — and are expected to reach the ISS late Monday evening, around 27 hours after lift-off. The crew have nicknamed the Dragon capsule “Resilience,” a nod to the tumultuous events of the year.

Earlier this month, NASA certified the SpaceX human spaceflight system, the first time the American space agency has ever done so for a commercial system. “I could not be more proud of everyone at SpaceX and all of our suppliers who worked incredibly hard to develop, test, and fly the first commercial human spaceflight system in history to be certified by NASA,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in response to the certification.

“This is a great honor that inspires confidence in our endeavor to return to the Moon, travel to Mars, and ultimately help humanity become multi-planetary,” said Musk, echoing remarks he made after SpaceX successfully returned astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from the ISS aboard a Dragon capsule.

“I think this is something that the whole world can take some pleasure in, and can really look at this as an achievement of humanity,” said Musk back in August. “These are difficult times when — you know, there’s not that much good news — and I think this is one of those things that is universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth, this is a good thing, and I hope it brightens your day.”

Musk, who heads several other tech companies, including Tesla and Neuralink, did not attend the Sunday evening launch, as he believes that he currently has the coronavirus.

However, Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, traveled to Florida with second lady Karen Pence to attend the launch, along with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Pence also attended the first NASA-manned SpaceX launch back in May, along with President Donald Trump, who observed at the time: “It’s incredible. The technology, the power. I’m so proud of the people at NASA, all the people that worked together — public and private — when you see a sight like that, it’s incredible.”

“When you feel the shake, and we’re very far away, but you feel the shake over here, it’s pretty amazing,” said Trump.

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