With 24 hours of delay due to the threatening weather , the Falcon 9 rocket put into orbit this Friday, April 23, four astronauts – Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide. The veterans’ release provided a spectacular show off the coast of Florida in the United States. The trip, which lasted exactly one day, was sponsored by SpaceX, an American space transport services company founded by billionaire Elon Musk.
“It’s very intense,” he said as he watched the Falcon 9 rocket take off with astronauts. “It’s extremely intense to watch all of this. I haven’t been able to sleep well so far. But luckily we have a great team. I’m very, very proud of the incredible work that we’ve done in partnership with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It’s hard to believe we’re here doing this. Frankly, it feels like a dream”.
The Falcon 9 Rocket Voyage
According to a report published by CBS News, the Falcon 9 launch went smoothly. The docking at the space station, that is, at the final destination, also went smoothly – and on schedule, at 5:10 am on Saturday, 04/24. “Hello Earth! It’s great to be back in space,” McArthur said in a downlink video taken outside Earth orbit. “The ride was amazing, the ride was smooth, it couldn’t have been better. We hope you enjoyed the show.”
At the end of the day, while the astronauts were getting ready for bed, Sarah Gilles, responsible for communication with the professionals, contacted the crew to advise of a possible collision between the capsule and space debris. As a preventive measure, Gilles asked the astronauts to put on the suits.
The astronauts promptly followed the instruction. Fortunately, the debris passed through the capsule without causing any incident. Since NASA stopped using the Russian Soyuz spacecraft exclusively , this is the third launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. The capsule was launched for the first time in May of last year, carrying Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken on board. The second release was made in November.
As reported by the CBS News report, the first launch of the Falcon 9 rocket was carried out so that the technical team could later make some improvements. The launched capsule, upon return, was reinforced to withstand any outside influences. In the meantime, the spacecraft system was also upgraded, new parachutes were installed, and a new heat shield was attached. The quick fixes show how new releases can be made without investing large amounts of money.
“This is really important. A reusable rocket is a revolution in the midst of the space race,” Musk revealed. “This is really what we need. If we continue like this, the trend is to reduce costs more and more”. “We founded SpaceX two decades ago, and it is only now that I feel that full reuse of a space rocket could be feasible. I wasn’t sure when we started investing in the sector, but now I have it”.
Although the Falcon 9 was reused in three launches, the rocket base, released during the second stage of the voyage, was not recovered. SpaceX’s technical team is currently working to create a base that can be leveraged after launches. The company believes the technology will be ready in the coming years. “The future is bright,” said Musk. “I think we are at the beginning of a new era.”
The veterans, once docked, were greeted by astronauts Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi, Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov and Mark Vande Hei. Now, the space station has a total of seven astronauts. The team is expected to return to Earth in mid-October, after carrying out a series of space projects that have been proposed by NASA and SpaceX.