Human spacefarer 600 launched into orbit: NPR

Author: | Posted in USA No comments

From left, astronauts Tom Marshburn, Matthias Maurer, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron of Germany, wave as they leave the Operations and Payments building for a trip to Launch Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday.

John Raoux/AP


hide title

turn subtitle on/off

John Raoux/AP


From left, astronauts Tom Marshburn, Matthias Maurer, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron of Germany, wave as they leave the Operations and Payments building for a trip to Launch Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday.

John Raoux/AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX rocket carried four astronauts into orbit Wednesday night, including the 600th person to reach space in 60 years.

The flight, which has been repeatedly delayed, took place just two days after SpaceX’s arrival. the other four astronauts Home from the International Space Station. They should have been there to welcome the newcomers, but NASA and SpaceX decided to change the line up based on the ideal recovery weather in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday.

Matthias Maurer from Germany was ranked 600th based on his mission assignment, according to NASA. He and three NASA crew members must arrive at the space station in less than 24 hours, with a delay of more than a week.

One of the astronauts – NASA won’t say which – was suspended last week due to an undisclosed medical issue. The crew member has fully recovered, according to NASA. Officials will not say whether it was an illness or injury, but noted that it was not COVID-19.

Bad weather also contributed to flight delays.

It was drizzly Wednesday night when the four astronauts bid farewell to their families, holding umbrellas over them. Forecasters promised the weather would improve, and it did.

The list of 600 travelers ranges from those who barely took up space like actor William Shatner last month to US and Russian astronauts who spent a year or more in orbit. The increase in space tourists this year has helped push the tally to over 600.

Maurer noted that since Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight in 1961, it has averaged 10 people a year.

“But I think in a few years, we’re going to see this increase exponentially because we’re now entering the era of commercial spaceflight,” he said after arriving at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center two weeks ago.

The crew launch was SpaceX’s fourth passenger flight for NASA in 1 1/2 years and the company’s fifth overall—a four-person charter flight that bypassed the space station. The Dragon capsule’s toilet leaked during its three days in orbit in September, requiring a quick redesign of the flushing system in the newest capsule, dubbed Endurance by his team.

A stubborn parachute during Monday’s landing prompted SpaceX engineers to examine the data before moving forward for Wednesday’s launch. SpaceX officials said on Tuesday that one of the four channels opened more than a minute late, a problem seen in testing and is within safe limits.

Mauer is one of three recruits on the crew. The 51-year-old actress was a finalist when she first applied to the European Space Agency to become an astronaut. Boldly, she quit her research job at a medical company and joined the space agency as an engineer, making her astronaut cut in 2015.

Also on board:

– 44-year-old Air Chief Raja Chari is the first space rookie to lead an orbital mission for NASA in decades. A test pilot from Cedar Falls, Iowa, Chari has spent more than 2,500 hours on warplanes, including combat missions in Iraq.

— 61-year-old Dr. Thomas Marshburn will be the oldest living spacewalker on the space station. Born in Statesville, North Carolina, he pursued a career in emergency medicine, then joined NASA in 1994 as a flight surgeon. This is her third trip to the space station.

– Kayla Barron, 34, a Navy lieutenant commander from Richland, Washington. She was among the first women to serve as a submarine warfare officer. When added to flight in May, it ranks 601st in space.

They will host two groups of tourists during their six-month stay at the station. A Russian film crew recently spent two weeks filming a movie on the station.

The new team will join three station residents, two Russians and NASA’s Mark Vande Hei, who celebrated his 55th birthday on Wednesday.

Before launch, NASA tweeted, “NASA and @SpaceX are lighting a big candle in the sky for you tonight.”