Since the debut of Crew Dragon, SpaceX has flown more astronauts than anyone else

Since the debut of Crew Dragon, SpaceX has flown more astronauts than anyone else

The Crew Dragon crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
to enlarge / The Crew Dragon crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday afternoon.


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

After a two-day weather delay, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon freedom Came back down to earth off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, under clear blue skies and light seas. The spacecraft’s descent through Earth’s atmosphere appeared to be nominal, with the schedule deploying two drogue parachutes, followed by four clear main parachutes, allowing the Dragon to plunge downward at about 25 km/h.

“SpaceX, from freedomThank you for an incredible ride to orbit and an incredible ride home,” said Kjell Lindgren, NASA commander of the spacecraft, after the landing.

Lindgren led a mission that included NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. After landing, the spacecraft was met by two SpaceX “fast boats” that secured the toasty-looking vehicle before being brought aboard. Megan The recovery ship, named after Megan MacArthur, an astronaut on 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 sent four astronauts to the space station, where they will remain for about six months. With an initial demonstration mission in 2020, and two private space flights—Inspiration4 and Axiom-1—Crew Dragon has now carried 30 people into orbit.

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

The Dragon has had a few glitches over the past two years, including an intermittently problematic toilet in flight and a lagging parachute, but NASA officials have been extremely pleased with the vehicle’s performance. It safely returned human spaceflight capability to the United States, which had been lost since the retirement of the Space Shuttle. Without Dragon available, NASA would have been in the uncomfortable position of relying on Russia to transport crews amid the Ukraine war.

Crew-5 was the last launch for SpaceX’s Dragon vehicle in 2022, but two missions are expected in the first quarter of 2023. In February, Crew 6 is scheduled to launch, led by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen with pilot Warren Hoberg. In addition, there will be two mission experts, Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and UAE cosmonaut Sultan Al Neyadi.

Then, in early March, entrepreneur Jared Isaacman will launch his second Dragon Free Flyer mission, Polaris Dawn, with the goal of performing the world’s first personal EVA and conducting research to advance human spaceflight. He will be accompanied by pilot Scott Potitt as well as 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 in the Dragon.

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