First Crewed Dragon launch, 30th May 2020, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
After many years in planning, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has transported two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, to the International Space Station, on the first voyage of the “Crew Dragon”. Takeoff was at 15:22 local time from Cape Canaveral, on Saturday 30th May. Successful docking with the International Space Station occurred 19 hours later.
Transport of astronauts to and from the ISS has been occurring on a regular basis every few months, but what’s notable about this one is that it is the first launch of humans from American soil since the Spaces Shuttle was retired in 2011. It is also the most economical mission to the ISS, in terms of re-use. The Falcon-9 first stage booster landed, and will be used again, as will the Dragon capsule. The only lost parts were the upper stage, and the “trunk”, a cylindrical adaptor between the Dragon and the upper stage, which is, typically, used for the transport of unpressurised cargo. When the SpaceX “Starship” becomes operational, the loss of non-reusable hardware will be finally eliminated from their space transport service, and another milestone in the Space Age will have been passed.