SpaceX: the Crew Dragon capsule on its way to the ISS after a historic launch
Takeoff took place this Saturday evening for the Crew Dragon capsule, on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, heading for the International Space Station (ISS). This time, the weather was favorable for a departure, scheduled for 9:22 p.m. in front of cameras around the world. As a sign that the operation was more likely to be successful than on Wednesday: US President Donald Trump went to the Kennedy Space Center to follow the launch.
" It's incredible ! ", Reacts Trump
A final video point was made 7 minutes before takeoff. Before that, the tanks of the different stages of the rocket were gradually filled with liquid oxygen, generating white smoke. In the capsule, the crew wisely waited for the green light. The rocket finally took off on time. The first stage of the rocket separated after four minutes of flight. " It's incredible ! Marveled Donald Trump, located three kilometers from the site.
Eleven minutes after takeoff, the rocket placed in the correct orbit. In the process, the second stage of the rocket in turn separated successfully. The two crew members are now weightless.
Nine years since the United States did not send men into space from their soil. This shows how high the expectations are with a flight that already appears to be crucial. It is also the first time that the launch of a rocket has been entrusted in the world to a private company, the SpaceX company of Elon Musk.
A first attempt had overturned Wednesday because of the risks of thunderstorm in Florida, at the Kennedy space center, where the takeoff takes place. After a long wait, the boss of NASA and that of SpaceX Elon Musk have both confirmed their desire to try again this Saturday. The day before, the probability of launch was still estimated at 50%, still due to weather conditions.
The spatial independence of the United States at stake
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were chosen to board the Dragon capsule. The journey of these two friends of twenty years could last a little over two months in total. Equipped with a very futuristic suit, they must reach the international space station, 400 km from Earth, where Russians and Americans have been coming and going since 1998.
For the United States, the stakes are considerable. SpaceX will give the country access to space, low-cost, cheaper than its previous programs. For the three billion granted since 2011, SpaceX has fully developed a new space taxi and promised NASA, its client, six round trips to the ISS. If this flight is successful, the Americans can claim to have regained their spatial independence. Since 2011, they had to turn to Russia and its Soyuz vessels, the only space taxis available. Routings from Florida will then become regular, with four astronauts on board.