A new era in space travel is set to begin this weekend, with the scheduled take-off of SpaceX’s first operational crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
Three American astronauts and a Japanese colleague from JAXA are scheduled to depart from Florida at 7.49pm on Saturday (12.49am Sunday UK time). Their mission will last six months.
The launch was supposed to be on October 31, but was delayed due to an “unexpected” problem with the missile.
This will be SpaceX’s second manned flight to NASA – after the successful Demo-2 flight that launched in May.
Mask made history by becoming the first private company to send humans into orbit six months ago.
American astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley They traveled to the space station and back as part of a two-month mission to demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to safely perform manned missions.
It made SpaceX the first commercial human spaceflight system.
“This is a great honor that inspires confidence in our endeavor to return to the moon, travel to Mars, and ultimately help humanity become multi-planetary,” Musk said in a statement.
“I’m very proud to say that we’re relaunching regular human space flights to American soil on a US rocket and spacecraft,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, as well as Japanese Soichi Noguchi will make a trip to the space station in the Crow Dragon capsule.
The missile will separate into a first stage and a second stage shortly after takeoff.
The first stage will return to the SpaceX landing craft off Florida, while the second stage continues with the capsule.
Then in orbit, the capsule will detach from the second stage and head to the International Space Station.
The project will save the agency a significant amount of money as it will cost about $ 55 million (£ 40 million) per astronaut, instead of the $ 90 million (£ 67 million) that Russian space agency Roscosmos was charging.
The astronauts will spend six months in the space lab that orbits space, conduct scientific experiments and perform various other tasks.
The crew is scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and then dock with the space station at 4.20 am on Sunday (9.20 am UK time).
Astronauts will join three other stations of the International Space Station – Kate Robins of NASA, Russia’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kod Sverhkov – to become part of the Expedition 64 crew.
Meanwhile, another NASA taxi service, Boeing, is not expected to fly its first crew until next summer.