In May this year, for the first time, a private company’s spacecraft took two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and brought them back.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon rocket was used for this historic mission and now, several months later, its first operational flight, Crew 1, has left.
The flight, which departed on Monday morning, was live-streamed on NASA TV according to Pakistani time.
Crew 1 to 4 astronauts have been sent to the International Space Station (ISS), three from NASA and one from Japan.
The four will stay in the ISS for six months and if all goes well, the crew dragon flights will start after this operational flight.
SpaceX is not the only private company to take astronauts to their destinations, NASA expects Boeing’s Star Liner capsule to be used for this purpose by 2021.
If that happens, a series of private space flights will become commonplace.
It may be recalled that astronauts were last sent to the space station from the US mainland before May 2011, after which the US space agency’s astronaut spacecraft was retired.
For the past nine years, the United States has been sending its astronauts in Russian vehicles from a space station in Kazakhstan, providing billions of dollars a year to Russia.
The historic joint venture between NASA and Asus X was inaugurated between May 30 and 31 at about 1:30 pm and the astronauts were launched into space from the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida.
Later in August, a joint NASA mission to Space One succeeded in bringing astronauts back to Earth from the ISS.
It was the first landing of an American astronaut on the water since the 1975 Apollo Soyuz mission.
There were two astronauts aboard the spaceship, one of whom was Commander Bob Behnken and the other its pilot, Doug Hurley, who said it was a great honour for them.