Three NASA crew and one Japanese astronaut are set for launch aboard a SpaceX rocket Saturday, bound for the International Space Station in the program’s first six-month routine mission since the United States resumed crewed space flight in May after nine years of reliance on Russia.
NASA on Tuesday officially certified as safe the Crew Dragon capsule developed for regular astronaut transportation by SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk that carried two astronauts to the ISS in May and back to Earth again in August without major incident.
“I’m extremely proud to say we are returning regular human spaceflight launches to American soil on an American rocket and spacecraft,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
Take-off is planned for 7:49pm Saturday (6:19am IST Sunday) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with American astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi on board.
As of Tuesday evening, the weather outlook for Saturday was good.
They are expected to arrive at the ISS eight hours later, at 09:20 GMT Sunday (2:50pm IST Sunday).
The mission marks a culmination for SpaceX, setting it up to be NASA’s favoured, and so far most reliable, transportation provider as the agency