Since Crew Dragon’s debut, SpaceX has flown more astronauts than anyone else

Zoom in / Crew Dragon crashes into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday afternoon.


After 170 days in space, four astronauts crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, ending a successful NASA-SpaceX mission to the International Space Station.

After two days of weather delays, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom he returned to Earth off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, under blue skies and mild seas. The spacecraft’s descent through Earth’s atmosphere appeared to be nominal, with two drogue parachutes deployed on schedule, followed by four clean main parachutes, allowing Dragon to plummet at around 25km / s.

“SpaceX, from Freedomthank you for the incredible ride into orbit and the incredible homecoming, ”said Kjell Lindgren, the commander of the NASA spacecraft, after landing.

Lindgren led a mission that included NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Upon landing, the spacecraft was greeted by two SpaceX “fast boats” who secured the toasty-looking vehicle before it was brought aboard. Megan recovery ship, named after Megan McArthur, an astronaut aboard a previous SpaceX flight.

This mission, Crew-4, was the fourth operational mission flown by SpaceX for NASA. Earlier this month, the Crew-5 mission launched four astronauts onto the space station, where they will remain for about six months. Including an initial demonstration mission in 2020 and two private space flights, Inspiration4 and Axiom-1, Crew Dragon has now brought 30 people into orbit.

In just over two years, SpaceX has surpassed the total number of astronauts launched into orbit from China, whose human spaceflight program dates back to 2003; and in the time that Crew Dragon has been operational, it has even surpassed the Russian Soyuz vehicle in terms of the total number of people flown into space during that time.

Over the past couple of years Dragon has had a few glitches, including a problematic intermittent toilet and a delayed parachute on a flight, but NASA officials have been extremely pleased with the vehicle’s performance. He safely restored the human spaceflight capability of the United States, which had been lost since the space shuttle’s retirement. Had Dragon not been available, NASA would have found itself in the awkward position of relying on Russia to transport crew during the war in Ukraine.

Crew 5 was the last 2022 launch for SpaceX’s Dragon vehicle, but two missions are planned during the first quarter of 2023. Crew 6, commanded by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen, is scheduled to launch in February together with the pilot Warren Hoburg. Additionally, there will be two mission specialists, Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi.

So, as early as March, entrepreneur Jared Isaacman will carry out his second Dragon Flyer mission, Polaris Dawn, with the goal of running the world’s first private EVA and conducting research to advance human spaceflight. Alongside him will be pilot Scott Poteet and two mission specialists, Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon, who work for SpaceX. They will be the first employees of the company to fly into space on Dragon.

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