Terry Renna / AP
Four astronauts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday to take the United States one step closer by regularly picking up visitors to and from the International Space Station.
The NASA and SpaceX Crew-1 mission is slated to kick off on Saturday night. NASA sees this mission as an important step towards its commercial crew program, which aims to regularly rotate crews up and down the International Space Station, and lay the foundations for missions. to the Moon and Mars in the future.
“Today, we’re taking another leap in this transition in the way we do human flight,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator. “What we are talking about here is the commercialization of space. NASA is a customer of many customers in a very strong commercial market in low-Earth orbit.”
The crew includes commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover and mission specialist Shannon Walker, all of whom are Americans. Mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, the first Japanese astronaut to make a spacewalk outside of the space station, has passed four people.
Upon landing at the ISS, four people will be greeted by the current crew – including astronaut Kate Rubins, who recently voted from space – bringing the space station’s add-on to seven for the first time ever in its history. Over the next few months, the crew will conduct scientific research on topics such as botany and cancer. Their comeback is scheduled for spring.
NASA has been working with private company SpaceX to deliver cargo to and from the station for many years. This summer, two NASA astronauts flew onto the ISS on a SpaceX capsule, and then successfully flew down the coast of Pensacola. This was the first test planned since 1975. After that successful test, NASA certified the SpaceX crew system as “active” for future astronaut missions.
Since NASA retired its Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, the agency has had to buy seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for flights to the ISS.
“I can’t tell you how great it was to welcome a crew here to space again,” Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana told the group as they arrived at the Host. Japan. “I envy each of you and all of you. The whole effort to commercialize low Earth orbit, this is just a big step in making that happen.”
Glover, the only crew member who had not had a space flight before, excitedly: “Today is really special, since we flew a plane here, but the plan is to put a name on top fire, “he said. “That’s pretty neat.”