The craft carries astronauts from ESA, NASA, and JAXA
Four astronauts on board Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS). The mission will last for a period of a six-month mission. The capsule was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the trip lasting 24 hours.
Frenchman Thomas Pesquet is the first European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to travel in space on a SpaceX craft alongside NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide. This was Hoshide’s second mission to the space station.
SpaceX founder and tech billionaire Elon Musk was excited at the occasion. He expressed his pleasure in cooperating with multiple space agencies on the mission. He confessed that he had a sleepless night before the launch.
“I’m just really proud of the SpaceX team and honored to be partnered with NASA and helping with Jaxa and ESA as well,” he said. “It’s very intense, I suppose it does get a little bit easier but it’s still extremely intense. I usually can’t sleep the night before the launch and that’s true of the night before this one.”
Director of human and robotic exploration at the ESA, David Parker said that these flights are a part of eventually reaching Mars. He said that the manned missions, for now, will be limited to Moon and robots will be sent to Mars for a better understanding.
“Thomas’s mission is part of a sequence that is taking us on a journey that will one day end up with boots on Mars, the red planet. But right now, Mars is only a destination for our robots. Beyond the space station, one of the things we are doing is preparing for the return to the moon, or going forward to the moon, to explore it properly this time,” Parker said. “So Europe is building the power propulsion for Orion – the new deep spacecraft that will take humans to the moon. We have three seats aboard that are already planned. We will learn than on the moon how to take that much bigger leap eventually to the surface of Mars.”