- Successful launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- Dragon separates from Falcon 9 rocket, crew enters orbit.
- Unity among multinational crew highlighted by Moghbeli.
NASA and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully launched, carrying a crew of four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The Crew-7 mission is led by American Jasmin Moghbeli and includes Andreas Mogensen from Denmark, Satoshi Furukawa from Japan, and Konstantin Borisov from Russia. The launch took place at 3:27 am from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with around 10,000 spectators present to witness the event.
The Dragon spacecraft, propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, separated from the rocket and achieved orbit, prompting cheers in the mission control room. Jasmin Moghbeli emphasized the unity of the multinational crew, expressing that despite their diverse backgrounds, they share a common mission.
The launch was rescheduled for Saturday to allow engineers an extra day to review a component of the Crew Dragon capsule’s life support system. Both Moghbeli and Borisov are embarking on their first space mission, and Moghbeli, a Naval test pilot, expressed her excitement about the opportunity to experience space.
This mission, Crew-7, marks the seventh routine ISS mission for SpaceX, with the first being launched in 2020. NASA’s partnership with SpaceX is part of a commercial crew program that aims to reduce reliance on Russian rockets for astronaut transport. While Boeing is the other contracted partner, its program has faced delays and technical issues, preventing it from flying any crew so far.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, mounted on a Falcon 9 rocket, is carrying Borisov as the third Russian to fly on this platform. Despite geopolitical tensions, space cooperation between the US and Russia remains in place, with American astronauts also flying aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.
During their six-month stay on the ISS, the Crew-7 members will conduct various scientific experiments, including collecting samples during spacewalks to study microorganisms released by the station’s life-support system vents. The goal is to understand microorganism survival and reproduction in space. Sleep patterns will also be studied to compare physiological differences between sleep on Earth and in space.
Borisov expressed his enthusiasm for the challenges ahead and the opportunity to excel in his profession. Crew-7 will join the existing seven-person crew on the ISS, with Crew-6 members returning to Earth shortly after. The ISS, operational since 2001, is expected to continue its functions until at least 2030, after which it will be decommissioned. Private companies are working on commercial space stations to succeed the ISS.