SpaceX has sent a new crew to the International Space Station

The succession of Thomas Pesquet is on the way. Three American astronauts and a German took off, Wednesday evening, November 10, for a six-month mission in orbit in the International Space Station. Several times postponed, take-off was initially supposed to take place ten days ago.

They must replace the crew that has just left the ISS, returned to Earth overnight from Monday to Tuesday.

They were launched from Florida by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday evening at 9:03 p.m. local time. Their Dragon capsule must then dock at the station on Thursday at 7:10 p.m.

Their takeoff was greeted with loud applause in SpaceX’s control room.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, have been waiting in quarantine for days at the Kennedy Space Center.

They were due to leave at the end of October but take-off was delayed several times, in particular because of the weather, then a “Minor health problem” at one of the astronauts, on which NASA did not provide more details.

No handover between the two crews

The space agency therefore decided to bring the crew of Crew-2, including Thomas Pesquet, back to Earth before launching Crew-3. The handover period between the two crews, which normally takes place in zero gravity for a few days, was therefore unable to take place.

The mission is called Crew-3 because it is the third operational to the ISS provided by SpaceX on behalf of NASA.

But this is actually the fifth time that Elon Musk’s company has launched humans into orbit: before Crew-1 and Crew-2, a test mission (Demo-2) had sent two astronauts to the ISS. . And in September, SpaceX also launched four tourists for three days in space, independent of NASA.

The crew of Crew-3 embarked on Wednesday in a brand new Dragon capsule, the copy of which was named Endurance.

The four astronauts before their departure for the International Space Station: left to right, Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, Matthias Maurer and Kayla Barron, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. On November 10, 2021.

For American Tom Marshburn, it will be the third time in space. He already flew aboard a space shuttle in 2009, then a Soyuz rocket in 2012-2013. The other three astronauts, however, will make the trip for the first time. Matthias Maurer will be the twelfth German to end up in orbit.

Soon, tourists in the ISS

They will be greeted by the American Mark Vande Hei, who stayed up there and who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, alone in the American segment of the station. Two Russian cosmonauts are also on board.

The mission will include many experiences. One of them aims to observe the effects of diet on the intestinal flora and the immune system of astronauts, their defenses often being weakened by a prolonged stay in space. They will thus be able to consume a larger selection of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables (squash, kale, etc.) as well as barramundi, a fish.

Crew-3 astronauts will also carry out spacewalks, in particular to continue installing new solar panels on the ISS.

And they will host two tourist missions: Japanese people brought by a Russian Soyuz spacecraft at the end of the year, then in February 2022 passengers from the Ax-1 mission, organized by the company Axiom Space in partnership with SpaceX.

Read also Thomas Pesquet back on Earth: what to take away from the mission? Our answers to your questions.

The World with AFP

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SpaceX has sent a new crew to the International Space Station

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