Crew-1 on Way to International Space Station After Spectacular Nighttime Launch

A Falcon 9 booster launches the Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying three Americans and a Japanese astronaut is now in orbit headed for a rendezvous with the International Space Station after launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Sunday.

Crew Dragon is carrying NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker as well as astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (JAXA). The Crew-1 astronauts will spend six months aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The crew was launched aboard a Falcon 9 booster that lifted off from Pad 39A at 7:27 p.m. EST. Ascent and spacecraft separation appeared to go exactly as planned.

It was the first commercial crew launch for SpaceX. The company launched two astronauts to ISS aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a flight test earlier this year.

Crew-1 is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday at 11 p.m. EST. They will join the American astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov as part of Expedition 64.

Crew-1 will increase the number of astronauts aboard the space station from six to seven. The extra crew member will allow for the doubling of the amount of time devoted to research aboard the facility.