SpaceX Dragon reaches orbit in milestone Nasa commercial flight

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WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Four astronauts reached orbit on a SpaceX rocket after lifting off at 7.27pm from Florida (8.27am, Monday, Singapore time) in the company’s first regular Nasa mission to the International Space Station.

The Sunday (Nov 15) launch appeared to go as planned as the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre.

The rocket’s first stage successfully landed on a drone ship about nine minutes after lift off.

The Dragon will ferry the astronauts to the space station on SpaceX’s first operational trip following a test flight with a two-person crew that returned from the orbiting lab three months ago.

The latest launch, known as the Crew-1 mission, comes 18 years after Mr Elon Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. with the ultimate goal of populating other planets.

The Crew-1 mission marks a crucial milestone in the development of a space industry in which private-sector companies provide business and tourism services in low-earth orbit.

Following the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, Nasa awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co early US$7 billion (S$9.4 billion) in contracts to build new transport systems to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew programme.

The launch was originally slated for Saturday, but was scrubbed due to bad weather.

In the Crew-1 mission, this will be the second trip to the space station by Commander Michael Hopkins, 51, an Air Force colonel and test pilot, seven years after his first.

He is joined by three others on the mission:

– Dr Shannon Walker, 55, a physicist and Houston native, who will serve her second stint on the orbiting lab.

– Mr Victor Glover, 44, a Navy pilot from California, who will be taking his first flight to space. He’ll be the first black astronaut to stay on the space station for a full six-month rotation, according to Nasa.

– Mr Soichi Noguchi, 55, a Japanese astronaut and aeronautical engineer, who has the most space experience among the crew and will become one of the very few people to have left the Earth on three vehicles: Russia’s Soyuz, the Space Shuttle, and the SpaceX Dragon.

Bastion Balance Seoul.