Four astronauts transported by SpaceX’s Dragon capsules entered the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, The successful completion of NASA’s first voyage of new space transportation, after a nine-year dependency on Russia.
The first phase of the docking with the ISS, called “soft capture,” ended on Tuesday at 04H01 GMT, according to live images transmitted by NASA on the Internet. The second phase, or “hard catch,” occurred a few minutes later.
American astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese Soichi Noguchi floated with zero gravity through the hatch to the interior of the ISS, where they were greeted by three members of the station crew with shouts and hugs. .
“Thank you so much for allowing everyone to say goodbye“NASA’s Manipulated Space Flight Director Kathy Lauders told the astronauts in a video message. ‘I want to tell you that we are proud of you,'” he added.
The “Resilience” capsule was fired by a Falcon 9 rocket at the hands of the private company SpaceX, after NASA had a new space transport route with Russia for nine years.
“This is a great day for the United States and Japan“NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said in a press conference.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket failed and was scheduled to depart from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (southeast). “It was a great shot,” said Captain Hopkins, in orbit.
Less than three minutes after takeoff, at an altitude of 90 km and a rocket speed of 7,000 km / h, the first level of the spacecraft was dismantled without incident to return to Earth, as it will be reused in a mission scheduled for 2021. which will take four astronauts to the ISS.
Twelve minutes after takeoff, at an altitude of 200 km and a speed of 27,000 km / h, The dragon capsule is separated from the second stage.
SpaceX confirmed that the capsule was in the right orbit since it took off just over 27 hours to reach the ISS.
The crews were joined by two Russians and an American on the ISS, and will remain there for six months.
This “operational” flight follows a successful demonstration mission from May to Augustwhere two American astronauts were safely taken to the ISS and then brought by SpaceX to Earth safely.
SpaceX has scheduled two more 2021 crew flights for NASA and four missions to supply the station over the next 15 months.
Pure private travel, through the Axiom Space duo, is also planned for 2021. NASA has warned that American actor Tom Cruise could go to the ISS, which has not been confirmed.
“NASA was a complete disaster when we took it. Now, once again, it is the hottest and most advanced space in the world, so far!” Outgoing US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter about the success of the plan launched during his predecessor’s tenure.
Joe Biden, who will replace Trump in January, also praised NASA and SpaceX, but from a different perspective. “ANDIt is proof of the power of science and what we can achieve by combining innovation, ingenuity and determinationThe President-elect tweeted.
The mission had a problem with the cabin temperature control system, but it was quickly fixed. “It was just a small initial problem,” Kathy Lueders confirmed.
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is the second device capable of reaching the ISS today, along with the reliable Russian Soyuz, which has carried all visitors to the station since 2011 after the United States interrupted manned flights nine years ago. years. A second shuttle made by Boeing could be up and running in a year.
NASA, however, hopes to continue cooperating with Russia. To that end, he proposed offering places for his cosmonauts in future missions, and the Americans plan to continue using Soyuz regularly.
The reality is that the links between Washington and Moscow in the field of space, one of the few sectors that were still goodyes, they are weakening.
Breaking more than 20 years of cooperation for the ISS, Russia will not participate in the next mini-station invented by NASA around the Moon on the Gateway.
For Artemis, this US program to return to the Moon in 2024, NASA has signed alliances with other space agencies, including Japan and Europe, but the future is unclear because it has not yet received them from the United States Congress. it takes billions of dollars to finish.
And Joe Biden has not set a goal for 2024.
With information from AFP
The historic SpaceX mission successfully exited the International Space Station and begins to return to Earth
Another achievement of SpaceX: a video shows how a ship catches a reusable rocket tip
SpaceX: Everything you need to know about the launch of the spaceship