Four astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station – and the launch marks a historic first for NASA in this new era of space exploration.
The mission is the very first to see NASA send a crew into orbit on a privately-owned spacecraft (according to Sky News), and this new venture could shape the future of space travel for years to come. The possibility of commercial space flight has been pondered for many years, but is more likely to be realised with private firms leading the way rather than national space agencies without a profit motive.
But back to the current project: the rocket was a SpaceX Falcon 9 model, with a Dragon capsule perched atop, and lift-off occurred at 7:27pm local time in Florida (12:27am GMT). It marked only the second time since 2011 that a manned space flight had taken off from the United States. The voyage to the International Space Station will take approximately 27 hours to complete, after which the crew’s six-month stay will commence.
The launch comes at a time when SpaceX’s founder, Elon Musk (never a shrinking violet), has criticised the accuracy of Covid testing – a complaint that has earned him the nickname “Space Karen”.
Rapid antigen tests trade sensitivity for speed. They return a result in <30 minutes, but can only detect COVID-19 when you're absolutely riddled with it. What's bogus is that Space Karen didn't read up on the test before complaining to his millions of followers. pic.twitter.com/a1Snfpm03h— Emma Bell PhD (@emmabell42) November 14, 2020
As for several other newsworthy tirades over the past year or so, even Musk’s most dedicated fans must be wishing that he stuck to his area of expertise – because as with the latest rocket launch, the results can be spectacular.