Space X's Crew Dragon 2 spacecraft took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:49 a.m. French time with four astronauts on board, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet.
A new successful takeoff for the company of Elon Musk, which is establishing itself more and more in the world of space travel.
The capsule will take 23 hours to reach the International Space Station, to which it will dock on Saturday at 11:10 am The ISS will then have 11 astronauts on board.
It's gone for six (more) months in space.
This Friday morning, at 11:49 am French time, SpaceX took off in the Florida sky with four astronauts on board, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet.
Direction the International Space Station for the crew who should arrive safely late Saturday morning.
In addition to the Frenchman, for whom this is the second stay on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), the other three crew members of the Crew-2 mission are the Americans Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and the Japanese Akihiko Hoshide.
For the third space flight operated by Elon Musk's company, everything went well.
The Falcon-9 launcher's night takeoff from Kennedy Space Center was greeted with proper applause.
“It's great to be back in space,” said Shane Kimbrough.
Futuristic departure and decorum
Before settling in their armchairs for long hours of travel, it was aboard three Tesla that the astronauts had taken place in the middle of the night to reach the launch pad.
Their plates read: "recycle", "reuse" and "reduce" - a nod to the fact that the mission is reusing a rocket and capsule that have already been used.
At historic Launch Complex 39A, @Astro_Kimbrough & @Astro_Megan make their way across the crew access arm walkway to their Crew Dragon spacecraft, as @Thom_Astro & @Aki_Hoshide follow: pic.twitter.com/xKuIlKCpE8
- NASA (@NASA) April 23, 2021
Friday's flight reuses the thruster that was used during an unmanned test mission, a first, and the Crew Dragon spacecraft is the same as that of the manned test flight last May.
The success in May 2020 of SpaceX's first manned test flight broke the Russian monopoly on flights to the ISS and gave the Americans back the ability to accomplish this feat, after the “Shuttle” space shuttle program ended in 2011.
Thomas Pesquet has also confided his excitement at the idea of traveling in the futuristic and fully autonomous Crew Dragon capsule, very different from the Russian Soyuz ships he knows.
"The way it's done, it's just fantastic, we know what's going on all the time," he said.
“On Soyuz, it's incredibly reliable, but you had to understand all this information (…) scattered around the dashboard”, “and that's why the training was much longer”.
Eleven aboard the ISS on Saturday
The four astronauts are expected by the occupants of the ISS, including the Crew-1 team with whom they will spend a few days before the latter returns from its mission.
"It will be a pajama party atmosphere" with an astronaut sleeping in each of the docked SpaceX capsules, said Ben Stahl, who works on the Crew-2 mission.
With the three other Russians already present, there will be 11 on board the ISS.
“Our friends on the ISS are waiting for us and we don't want to be late, they prepared my room very recently and literally made my bed.
A five-star guest room, said Thomas Pesquet during the final preparations.
Once recovered from his arrival and micro-weightlessness, the French will quickly get back to work.
He will conduct no less than a hundred scientific experiments.
Research whose results may help space agencies prepare for missions that will expose teams to the difficulties of space for long periods of time, such as the trip to Mars to which Thomas Pesquet so aspires.
Mission Alpha: What are the seven differences between a SpaceX and Soyuz space flight?
Takeoff of Thomas Pesquet: The astronaut on his way to the ISS, with his gaze already turned to the Moon?