NASA has released footage of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission from 10 unique angles.
On Sunday, May 30, NASA and SpaceX made history launching the first crewed commercial spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station. The flight was also the first crewed mission launched from US soil since the retirement of the space shuttle nine years ago.
At 19:22:45 UTC that fateful day, the nine Merlin 1D+ engines powering the Falcon 9 first stage ignited and the rocket leapt off the historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. With more than 7,607 kilonewtons of thrust insistent on the direction they’re heading, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are in for one hell of a ride.
Just over two and half minutes later, the nine Merlin engines powering the first stage cut off and the stage separates from the rocket’s upper stage. After a clean separation, the first stage spins around and heads home to be recovered and reused.
Doug and Bob’s respite is brief as the single Merlin 1D Vacuum engine powering the rocket’s upper stage kicks into action to push the craft into orbit around the Earth. Just over six minutes later, the rocket is pushing past 26,800 kph at an altitude of 197 kilometers when the second stage completes its mission and shuts down.
They’ve done it. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have become the first NASA astronauts to be launched aboard an American spacecraft from US soil since the final shuttle mission in July 2011.
The Crew Dragon, which has now been dubbed Endeavour by Doug and Bob in recognition of the pair both serving aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s upper stage. With two planned burns and a 19-hour travel time, the pair will arrive safely at the International Space Station writing their names in the annals of spaceflight accomplishments.