After weeks of delay, four astronauts are getting ready to launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on the first fully operational mission for a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The combined project between NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX will see the astronauts transported on the spacecraft, named Resilience, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station for a 6-month mission.
The astronauts and NASA administrators held a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday afternoon to discuss the November 14 launch, postponed from October 31 to allow extra time for hardware testing.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover will crew the Resilience alongside Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with Japan’s JAXA space agency and veteran of NASA space shuttle and Russian Soyuz missions.
Glover will become the first Black person to serve as a full-time crew member on the two-decade-old International Space Station.
“It is so exciting to be here,” Walker told reporters Sunday. “I am just so happy to be here in Florida getting ready for this launch.”
Noguchi said the team was proud to be going on the mission, which has been dubbed Crew-1.
“It’s been a tough time. It’s been a long wait. But the crew on is in town, and we are the only game in town this week. And we go to space with pride. Our name is Resilience. Resilience is power to recover, will to restore, and we strive to survive,” Noguchi said, adding, “our mission is for everyone.”
“I’ve never had the opportunity to land a space shuttle here but I’ve landed the training aircraft that we fly. And every single time I know that a few days later I’m going to come back and I’m going to fly that jet out of here. And it’s really special today because we flew an airplane in here, but the plan is for us leave on top of a rocket. So that’s pretty neat. That’s pretty awesome.”
“We have this great team, we have this great mission ahead of us, and we all look forward to getting on orbit and doing our best to make you all proud of us. So thank you for your support, and thank you for being here today,” Glover said. “Go Falcon, go Dragon, and go Resilience.”
Hopkins — the spacecraft commander — said the crew has been in quarantine ahead of the scheduled launch.
“With the pandemic, it’s changed things a little bit. We really went into a quarantine status at about the three-week point, versus maybe in the past, we would have done it at two weeks,” Hopkins said.
“Our families went into quarantine as well with us, which I also think has been maybe a little bit different than in the past, but overall it’s worked out pretty well,” he said.
“It’s been a tough year for everybody for a lot of different reasons. And we felt like if the name of our vehicle could give a little hope, a little inspiration, put a smile on people’s face, then that is definitely what we wanted to do, and we felt like Resilience was the name that did that,” Hopkins said.
“And so, it’s not something just for us as a crew, but we thought that it also would resonate with everybody, not only that follow space, but everybody in the country, everybody around the world.”
The first Crew Dragon capsule to launch humans, which was still considered a test mission, took off in May carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. That mission safely ended last month.
SpaceX, NASA, Astronaut, International Space Station, Kennedy Space Center, Michael S. Hopkins
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