The team of 4 designated by Houston-based startup Axiom space INC for its debut spaceflight and orbital science mission was raised off on Fri morning from Canaveral, Florida.
A live video webcast by Axiom showed the 25-story SpaceX launch vehicle – consisting of a two-stage Falcon nine rocket lidded by its Crew Dragon capsule – streaking into the blue skies over Florida’s seacoast.
Cameras within the crew compartment beamed footage of the four men strapped into the pressurized cabin, seated sedately in their equipt white-and-black flight suits because the rocket soared toward space.
Nine minutes once launch, the rocket’s higher stage delivered the crew capsule into its preliminary orbit, in line with launch commentators. Meantime the rocket’s reusable lower stage, having detached from the rest of the spacecraft, flew itself back to Earth and safely touched down on a landing platform floating on a drone vessel within the Atlantic.
Launch webcast commentator Kate Tice describes the liftoff as “absolutely picture-perfect.” One crewman may well be detected telling mission control in a radio transmission: “That was a ride.”
“We’re taking commercial business off the face of the Earth and putting it up in space,” the Nasa chief, Bill Nelson, said before the flight. The shift enabled his agency to focus more on sending humans back to the moon, Mars, and other deep space exploration.