Liftoff! SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink satellites into orbit aboard a recycled Falcon 9 rocket

Liftoff! SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink satellites into orbit aboard a recycled Falcon 9 rocket named after the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

  • SpaceX launched 60 new Starlink satellites into orbit Tuesday at 3:01pm ET
  • The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Station in Florida
  • This is the third trip the rocket has made to space to deliver satellites 
  • This is also the seventh landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on a sea-based ship 
  • There are more than 1,500 Starlink internet satellites currently in orbit 

SpaceX launched a new batch of Starlinks Tuesday using a recycled Falcon 9 rocket to ferry the internet satellites to space.

The rocket took off at 3:01pm ET from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida as blue skies covered the area.

Ascent weather at the launch pad and recovery weather over the drone ship were ‘fantastic’ for take-off and landing, the SpaceX host of the livestream said minutes before the rocket launched.

The flight, called Starlink 25, is the 13th mission of 2021 for the Elon Musk-owned firm and the third time this Falcon 9 rocket has ventured into space.

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SpaceX launched a new batch of Starlinks Tuesday using a recycled Falcon 9 rocket to ferry the internet satellites to space. The rocket took off at 3:01pm ET from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida as blue skies covered the area

The Falcon 9 rocket ignited its nine Merlin engines just before take-off that sent a massive white cloud blowing from the base, and then it headed off to space.

After delivery the batch of 60 Starlinks into orbit, the rocket’s first stage made a safe landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Musk, a Star Wars fan, named SpaceX’s Falcon 9 after the Millennium Falcon from the popular film. 

SpaceX has held a number of Starlink launches each month this year, as part of Musk’s masterplan to have a total of 1,500 Starlink devices orbiting Earth by the end of 2021, along with funding his long-held dream of going to Mars.

SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell said during a recent interview: ‘The total addressable market for launch, with a conservative outlook on commercial human passengers, is probably about $6 billion, but the addressable market for global broadband is $1 trillion.’

The flight, called Starlink 25, is the 13th mission of 2021 for the Elon Musk-owned firm and the third time this Falcon 9 rocket has ventured into space

The flight, called Starlink 25, is the 13th mission of 2021 for the Elon Musk-owned firm and the third time this Falcon 9 rocket has ventured into space

Atop the Falcon 9 rocket is the fairing carrying the new batch of 60 Starlinks

Atop the Falcon 9 rocket is the fairing carrying the new batch of 60 Starlinks

‘The total addressable market for launch, with a conservative outlook on commercial human passengers, is probably about $6 billion,’ she said, ‘but the addressable market for global broadband is $1 trillion.’

Musk, a Star Wars fan, named SpaceX's Falcon 9 after the Millennium Falcon from the popular film

Musk, a Star Wars fan, named SpaceX’s Falcon 9 after the Millennium Falcon from the popular film

According to Tesmanian, if SpaceX obtains 25 million Starlink subscribers, it would generate about $30 billion every year.

This is 10 times more than what the company earns as a launch provider, it added.

More than 10,000 users are connected to the Starlink satellite internet, according to a SpaceX filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from February.

The document said the service is ‘meeting and exceeding 100/20 megabits per second (Mbps) throughout individual users’ and many are seeing latency ‘at or below 31 milliseconds.’ 

The Falcon 9 rocket ignited its nine Merlin engines just before take-off that sent a massive white cloud blowing from the base, and then it headed off to space

The Falcon 9 rocket ignited its nine Merlin engines just before take-off that sent a massive white cloud blowing from the base, and then it headed off to space

After delivery the batch of 60 Starlinks into orbit, the rocket’s first stage made a safe landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship in the Atlantic Ocean

After delivery the batch of 60 Starlinks into orbit, the rocket’s first stage made a safe landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship in the Atlantic Ocean

There are some drawbacks for users, however – as well as the hefty cost, there are planned outages due to the limited number of satellites and the fact that Starlink is still in early testing.

The Starlink website reads: ‘There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.

‘As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.’

ELON MUSK’S SPACEX SET TO BRING BROADBAND INTERNET TO THE WORLD WITH ITS STARLINK CONSTELLATION OF SATELLITES

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the fifth batch of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites – taking the total to 300.

They form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.

The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.

Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.

The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It could also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

The company recently filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.

‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.

‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’

The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.

It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.

Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.

In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.

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NASA’s Ingenuity completes FOURTH flight on Mars that was ‘farther and faster than ever before’

NASA announced Friday that Ingenuity successfully completed its fourth flight, which saw the small helicopter ‘fly farther and faster than ever before.’

The American space agency received the data downlink at 1:39pm ET that showed the copter took off from ‘Wright Brothers Field’ under the watchful gaze of the Perseverance rover at 10:12am ET.

Perseverance, which sat some 210 feet away, snapped a picture of its travel companion’s fourth flight through the thin atmosphere on Mars.

Ingenuity was set to fly 16 feet above the surface and head south 267 feet, but NASA has yet to not confirm if these specific marks were hit. 

‘Success. #MarsHelicopter completed 4th flight, going farther & faster than ever before. It also took more photos as it flew over the Martian surface. We expect those images will come down in a later data downlink, but @NASAPerseverance’s Hazcam caught part of the flight,’ NASA’s JPL shared on Twitter.

The flight was initially set for Thursday, but the data downlink showed Ingenuity did not transition to flight mode – meaning it never left the ground.

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NASA received the data downlink at 1:39pm ET that showed the copter took off from ‘Wright Brothers Field’ under the watchful gaze of the Perseverance rover at 10:12am ET (pictured)

The space agency said it would continue to push the four-pound copter to its limit in each subsequent test, this time almost doubling the speed of the third flight.

Due to delays in sending data from the 187 million miles between Jezero crater on Mars and NASA JPL in California, the team waited in suspense for three hours or so before receiving confirmation of the successful flight.

The small craft achieved all of its goals including flight duration, distance and speed, in the first three trips – so the fourth ‘pushed the envelope’ beyond what the small rotorcraft was designed to achieve by NASA JPL engineers.

Ingenuity was set to soar up to 16 feet above the Martian airfield, head south over rocks, sand ripples and impact craters for 276 feet and used its navigation camera to collect images of the surface every four feet.

The flight was initially set for Thursday, but the data downlink showed Ingenuity did not transition to flight mode - meaning it never left the ground

The flight was initially set for Thursday, but the data downlink showed Ingenuity did not transition to flight mode – meaning it never left the ground

The small craft achieved all of its goals including flight duration, distance and speed, in the first three trips - so the fourth 'pushed the envelope' beyond what the small rotorcraft was designed to achieve by NASA JPL engineers (pictured is the copter's third flight)

The small craft achieved all of its goals including flight duration, distance and speed, in the first three trips – so the fourth ‘pushed the envelope’ beyond what the small rotorcraft was designed to achieve by NASA JPL engineers (pictured is the copter’s third flight)

As it flew, the rotorcraft was to have used its downward-looking navigation camera to collect images of the surface until it traveled a total of 436 feet downrange.

INGENUITY: THE SMALL ROTORCRAFT THAT TOOK TO THE MARTIAN SKY 

Ingenuity was designed as a technology demonstrator rather than carrying any of its own science experiments or equipment.

It rode to Mars attached to the belly of the SUV-size Perseverance rover.

The helicopter took off from the ‘Wright Brothers Field’ on Monday April 19, making history as the first powered flight on another world.

For the first flight, the helicopter took off, climbed to about 10ft above the ground, hovered in the air briefly, completed a turn, and then landed. 

It is built to be light and strong to survive the harsh Martian environment.

It weighs just under 4lb and is only 19 inches tall as it has to fly in the much thinner atmosphere – about 1% that of the atmosphere found on Earth.

It can fly up to 980ft, go up to 15ft in the sky and can spend about 90 seconds in the air before landing.

The rotors are 4ft in diameter and the craft includes solar panels that charge lithium-ion batteries.

It has a 30 day lifespan, with a total of five flights expected in that time. 

Then, Ingenuity was set to hover and take images with its color high-definition camera before heading back to Wright Brothers Field to land.

Perseverance watched the fourth flight unfold from about 210 feet away, as it did with the previous flights.

A few hours before confirming the flight, NASA had announced Ingenuity is getting a promotion as an operation partner for Perseverance.

The helicopter is set to conduct aerial scouting over the surface of Mars, which will begin following its next two flights.

Friday’s announcement comes as the Perseverance rover is ahead of schedule with the thorough checkout of all vehicle systems since touching down February 19.

‘With the Mars Helicopter’s energy, telecommunications, and in-flight navigation systems performing beyond expectation, an opportunity arose to allow the helicopter to continue exploring its capabilities with an operations demonstration, without significantly impacting rover scheduling,’ NASA shared in a statement.

The operations demonstration will begin in about two weeks with the helicopter’s sixth flight. 

Until then, Ingenuity will be in a transitional phase that includes its fourth and fifth forays into Mars’ crimson skies. 

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said: ‘The Ingenuity technology demonstration has been a resounding success.

‘Since Ingenuity remains in excellent health, we plan to use it to benefit future aerial platforms while prioritizing and moving forward with the Perseverance rover team’s near-term science goals.’

The small craft achieved all of its goals including flight duration, distance and speed, in the first three trips – so the fourth will ‘push the envelope’ beyond what the small rotorcraft was designed to achieve by NASA JPL engineers.

Flying on Mars is particularly challenging due to the fact its atmosphere is just one percent of Earth’s at ground level, and while the lower gravity, a third of that on Earth, helps, it is only a partial offset against the thinner atmosphere.

This means that in order to fly, the helicopter has to be ultra-light and rotate its blades extremely fast in order to achieve lift.  

The drone was designed as a technical demonstration to see if a flying component would be viable and possible for future planetary science and exploration missions.

It has no science equipment on board, beyond a navigation camera and a horizon camera in full color.

Ingenuity made history on April 19 when it became the first powered craft to take off and land on another world, something NASA dubbed its ‘Wright Brothers moment’.

Ingenuity was set to soar up to 16 feet above the Martian airfield, head south over rocks, sand ripples and impact craters for 276 feet and used its navigation camera to collect images of the surface every four feet

Ingenuity was set to soar up to 16 feet above the Martian airfield, head south over rocks, sand ripples and impact craters for 276 feet and used its navigation camera to collect images of the surface every four feet

Previously flights saw Ingenuity take off from the Martian airfield and soar 10 feet in the air

Previously flights saw Ingenuity take off from the Martian airfield and soar 10 feet in the air 

It travelled up 10 feet into the air, hovered and then landed back on Martian soil on the landing site the agency has since named after the famed airplane inventors.

For the second flight Ingenuity went higher and further than during the first, travelling 16ft into the air, hovering and accelerating seven feet sideways.

The third flight pushed this a step further, also going up 16 feet, then travelling 164 feet at 4.5 miles per hour, before landing back down on the surface of Mars.

‘From millions of miles away, Ingenuity checked all the technical boxes we had at NASA about the possibility of powered, controlled flight at the Red Planet,’ said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

‘Future Mars exploration missions can now confidently consider the added capability an aerial exploration may bring to a science mission.’

A few hours before confirming the flight, NASA had announced Ingenuity is getting a promotion as an operation partner for Perseverance. The helicopter is set to conduct aerial scouting over the surface of Mars, which will begin following its next two flights

A few hours before confirming the flight, NASA had announced Ingenuity is getting a promotion as an operation partner for Perseverance. The helicopter is set to conduct aerial scouting over the surface of Mars, which will begin following its next two flights

This black-and-white image was taken by the navigation camera aboard NASA's Ingenuity helicopter during its third flight

This black-and-white image was taken by the navigation camera aboard NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter during its third flight

The Ingenuity team had three objectives to accomplish to declare the technology demo a complete success.

They completed the first objective about six years ago when the team demonstrated in the 25-foot-diameter space simulator chamber of JPL that powered, controlled flight in the thin atmosphere of Mars was more than a theoretical exercise.

The second objective – to fly on Mars – was met when Ingenuity flew for the first time on April 19.

The team surpassed the last major objective with the third flight, when Ingenuity rose 16 feet, flying downrange 164 feet and back at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second – even snapping a photo of Perseverance along the way.

NASA DELAYS return of SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts until Saturday due to bad weather in Florida

The International Space Station will be crowded a little longer after NASA and SpaceX announced a delayed return for the Crew-1 mission.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi were set to undock from the orbiting laboratory on Wednesday, but poor weather has now pushed the departure back to Friday, April 30.

This means the Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, will splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida Saturday, May 1.

There are currently 11 astronauts living on the ISS, which typically hosts six at a time, but the US portion has only four beds and there are currently nine people within this part of the station.

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Astronauts (left to right) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi were set undock from the orbiting laboratory April 28, but poor weather has pushed it to April 30 and splashdown is now scheduled for May 1

Crew-2 mission brought the latest batch of astronauts to the ISS Sunday, which overlapped Crew-1 that was set to head home to Earth a few days later.

However, NASA released an official statement Tuesday announcing a delay due to poor weather conductions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which currently predict wind speeds above the recovery criteria.

Resilience is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 5:55pm ET Friday, April 30 and splashdown at 11:36am ET Saturday, May 1.

The returning astronauts, Crew-1, launched to the ISS on November 15, 2020, which was the first to follow the historic Demo-2 mission in May 2020.

There are currently 11 astronauts living on the ISS, which typically hosts six at a time, but the US portion has only four beds and there are currently nine people within this part of the station

There are currently 11 astronauts living on the ISS, which typically hosts six at a time, but the US portion has only four beds and there are currently nine people within this part of the station

It was only the second time that SpaceX, which is owned by Elon Musk, sent people into orbit in its Dragon capsule via its Falcon rocket.

The crew led by Hopkins, an Air Force colonel, includes physicist Walker and Navy Cmdr. and rookie astronaut Glover, who is the first black astronaut to spend an extended amount of time on the space station. 

Noguchi also became only the third person to rocket into orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft. 

The team of four named their capsule Resilience given all the challenges in 2020, most notably the global pandemic. 

The returning astronauts, Crew-1, launched to the ISS on November 15, 2020 (pictured) and the team of four named their capsule Resilience given all the challenges in 2020, most notably the global pandemic.

The returning astronauts, Crew-1, launched to the ISS on November 15, 2020 (pictured) and the team of four named their capsule Resilience given all the challenges in 2020, most notably the global pandemic.

The crew led by Hopkins (front right), an Air Force colonel, includes physicist Walker (back left) and rookie astronaut Glover (front left), who is the first black astronaut to spend an extended amount of time on the space station. Noguchi (front right) also became only the third person to rocket into orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft.

The crew led by Hopkins (front right), an Air Force colonel, includes physicist Walker (back left) and rookie astronaut Glover (front left), who is the first black astronaut to spend an extended amount of time on the space station. Noguchi (front right) also became only the third person to rocket into orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft.

But it seems 2021 has brought a little bad luck with poor weather on their set return date, which means the crew will have to find creative places to sleep. 

The ISS has hosted as many as 13 people, but the feat seems to be challenging each time the ship becomes crowded and astronauts have been sleeping in temporary beds.

NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Shane Kimbrough — commanders of Crew-1 and Crew-2, — have been sleeping in their docked Crew Dragon capsules.

Three crew members have made ‘Crew Alternative Sleep Accommodations,’ which is dubbed CASA that also means ‘house’ in Spanish.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Soichi Noguchi and fellow Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover, both of NASA, are among those in CASA beds.

Noguchi is getting shut eye in the astronaut gym, Walker is in the Columbus module and Glover sleeps in the airlock.

The newest occupants are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

Two of the Crew-2 members are sleeping in the docked capsule, dubbed Endeavor and the other two ‘can pick wherever they want to call home,’ NPR reports. 

NASA shares FIRST color aerial photos of the surface of Mars snapped by Ingenuity soaring 17ft above

NASA has shared the first color aerial images of the surface of Mars that were taken by Ingenuity during its second successful flight through the Martian atmosphere.

The historic photographs were captured while the helicopter hovered 17 feet above the surface while it travels away from Perseverance, but manages to snap the rover’s tire marks.

The color images were snapped using Ingenuity’s high resolution camera that has a 4208 x 3120-pixel sensor, as the device pointed 22 degrees below the horizon.

‘The image, as well as the inset showing a closeup of a portion of the tracks [of] the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrates the utility of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective,’ NASA explained.

Ingenuity first made history on April 18 when it became the first powered craft to fly on another planet in what NASA deems a ‘Wright Brothers moment.’

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NASA has shared the first color aerial images of the surface of Mars that were taken by Ingenuity during its second successful flight through the Martian atmosphere. The historic photographs were captured while the helicopter hovered 17 feet above the surface while it travels away from Perseverance, but manages to snap the rover’s tire marks

Taking off at exactly 3:34am ET, it climbed up to 10ft in the air, maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds before descending and touching back down on the surface of Mars. It spent 39.1 seconds in flight, NASA said.

Flying on Mars is particularly challenging due to the fact its atmosphere is just one percent of Earth’s at ground level, and while the lower gravity, a third of that on Earth, helps, it is only a partial offset against the thinner atmosphere.

This means that in order to fly, the helicopter has be ultra-light and rotate its blades extremely fast in order to achieve lift. For today’s test flight the blades spun to 2,500rpm, allowing it to hover 10 feet off the ground.

That is up five times faster than the blades of a helicopter on Earth. Smaller choppers’ blades spin up to 500 times a minute in flight, while larger aircraft such as twin-rotored copters such as Chinooks may only spin their blades 225 times a minute. 

A part of Ingenuity¿s shadow was captured as it hovered over the dusty Martian landscape on April 22. And the image also shows tread markings left in the ground by Perseverance¿s six tires during the trip of dropping Ingenuity off at the Martian airfield that has since been named ¿Wright Brothers Field

A part of Ingenuity’s shadow was captured as it hovered over the dusty Martian landscape on April 22. And the image also shows tread markings left in the ground by Perseverance’s six tires during the trip of dropping Ingenuity off at the Martian airfield that has since been named ‘Wright Brothers Field

‘What is exciting is that this helicopter has flown hundreds, if not thousands of times, but always in simulations, said Håvard Fjær Grip, Ingenuity Chief Pilot, following the first flight.

On April 22, the copter marked another successful flight, which was higher than the previous, when it climbed to 16 feet above the surface, hovered, tilted slightly and then moved seven feet sideways – and this is when it snapped the color images.

A part of Ingenuity’s shadow was captured as it hovered over the dusty Martian landscape on April 22.

And the image also shows tread markings left in the ground by Perseverance’s six tires during the trip of dropping Ingenuity off at the Martian airfield that has since been named ‘Wright Brothers Field.’

‘As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration,’ said NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen said during a livestream following Ingenuity’s first flight.

‘While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked.’

Ingenuity snapped the historic images by pointing its high-powered camera 22 degrees below the horizon.

‘Perseverance itself is located top center, just out frame. ‘Wright Brothers Field’ is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow, bottom center, with the actual point of takeoff of the helicopter just below the image,’ NASA shard in a statement.

On April 22, the copter marked another successful flight, which was higher than the previous, when it climbed to 16 feet above the surface, hovered, tilted slightly and then moved seven feet sideways ¿ and this is when it snapped the color images

On April 22, the copter marked another successful flight, which was higher than the previous, when it climbed to 16 feet above the surface, hovered, tilted slightly and then moved seven feet sideways – and this is when it snapped the color images

Ingenuity completed its third (pictured) powered flight on Mars this past Sunday. The copter covered a light distance of 64 feet while hitting speeds of 4.5mpg ¿ four times faster than before

Ingenuity completed its third (pictured) powered flight on Mars this past Sunday. The copter covered a light distance of 64 feet while hitting speeds of 4.5mpg – four times faster than before

‘A portion of the landing pads on two of the helicopter’s four landing legs can be seen in on the left and right sides of the image, and a small portion of the horizon can be seen at the upper right and left corners.’

Ingenuity completed its third powered flight on Mars this past Sunday.

The copter covered a light distance of 64 feet while hitting speeds of 4.5mpg – four times faster than before.

The Perseverance rover, which carried the four-pound rotorcraft to Mars, filmed the 80-second third flight on Mastcam-Z. NASA said Sunday that video clips would be sent to Earth in the coming days.

NASA announced it is now preparing for a fourth flight. Each flight is planned to be of increasing difficulty in order to push Ingenuity to its limits.

The Ingenuity experiment will end in one month in order to let Perseverance return to its main task: searching for signs of past microbial life on Mars.

NASA shares incredible timelapse video from the SpaceX Crew-2 launch

NASA has shared a remarkable nine-second timelapse video of the successful SpaceX Crew-2 rocket launch from Friday. 

Crew-2 carried four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), and can be seen rising into the air and spreading a plume of light through the sky.

As Crew-2 disappears over the horizon, the landing plume of the returning first stage of the Falcon 9 is seen falling towards a SpaceX pad in the Atlantic Ocean, allowing it to be reused for future missions.

SpaceX Crew-2 launched on Friday just before 11am BST from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

The capsule successfully docked with the ISS more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean, just a day after launch. 

The four astronauts on-board Crew-2 – Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur (from the US), Thomas Pesquet (France) and Akihiko Hoshide (Japan) – will now spend six months at the space station.

They will help conduct, among other tasks, drug tests using tissue chips – small microfluidic chips that simulate human organs – that run rapidly in ISS’s microgravity. 

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NASA shared the video of the launch on ‘Astronomy Picture of the Day’ – a website provided by the space agency and Michigan Technological University. 

‘The pre-dawn sky first seemed relatively serene yesterday morning over Indian Harbor Beach in Florida, USA,’ said NASA.

‘But then it lit up with a rocket launch. Just to the north, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Mission blasted into space aboard a powerful Falcon 9 rocket.’  

The time-lapse video – which compresses 12 minutes into eight seconds – shows the bright launch plume starting on the far left. 

The astronauts from the US, Japan and France, blasted off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 10:49 BST

The rocket rises into an increasingly thin atmosphere, causing its plume to spread out just as it is lit by the rising Sun. 

‘As the Crew-2 capsule disappears over the horizon, the landing plume of the returning first stage of the Falcon 9 descending toward the SpaceX barge in the Atlantic Ocean can be seen,’ NASA says. 

About 10 minutes after launch, travelling at about 10,000 miles per hour, Falcon 9’s second stage delivered the Crew Dragon and its astronauts into a nominal orbit. 

Images shows, from left, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, inside the capsule at launch pad at Launch Complex 39A ahead of the Crew-2 mission, April 23, 2021

Images shows, from left, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, inside the capsule at launch pad at Launch Complex 39A ahead of the Crew-2 mission, April 23, 2021 

They arrived at the International Space Station at about 10:10 BST on Saturday, where they were warmly welcomed by the existing crew.

Their arrival brought the total number of people on the ISS to 11, which will fall to seven when the four members of Crew-1 make their journey back to Earth and splash down this Wednesday. 

Eleven is the most people ever on the ISS. Eight of the 11 arrived on a commercial spaceship (SpaceX Crew Dragon), while the other three arrived in a Russian Soyuz capsule. 

The ISS, orbiting 253 miles above the planet, is designed to hold seven astronauts, but that can increase when a capsule is docked, such as the Crew-2 mission capsule that took the new foursome to the station. 

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, and its four astronauts, is seen safely docked in this impressive picture from Nasa TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, and its four astronauts, is seen safely docked in this impressive picture from Nasa TV

Friday’s mission became the first SpaceX launch to reuse both a capsule and Falcon 9 from previous launches. 

The same rocket took Crew-1 to the ISS and the capsule was used in ‘Launch America’ in May 2020.   

Although this was SpaceX’s third crew flight for NASA, it was the first to use a vehicle that has flown before, an essential part of Musk’s push to the Moon and Mars.  

One of the team – Thomas Pesquet, the French astronaut representing the European Space Agency –  plans to dine like a king with a smorgasbord of treats that are unlike any space food before. 

He and his crewmates will feast on dishes prepared by three separate French culinary institutions, but the meals are only for special occasions.  

Pesquet brought with him lobster, beef bourguignon, cod with black rice, potato cakes with wild mushrooms and almond tarts with caramelized pears, The New York Times reports.

‘There’s a lot of expectations when you send a Frenchman into space,’ Pesquet said during a European Space Agency news conference last month. ‘I’m a terrible cook myself, but it’s OK if people are doing it for me.’ 

This picture taken in Pouldreuzic, near Brest, western France, on April 20, 2021 shows a low-temperature cooked salmon prepared at the canning factory Henaff by the French chef Alain Ducasse's team (R) for the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet

This picture taken in Pouldreuzic, near Brest, western France, on April 20, 2021 shows a low-temperature cooked salmon prepared at the canning factory Henaff by the French chef Alain Ducasse’s team (R) for the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet 

WHO ARE THE CREW-2 ASTRONAUTS?

The four veteran astronauts reached the ISS on Saturday (April 24) for their six-month stay. They are:  

Spacecraft Commander Shane Kimbrough, 53, NASA

A retired Army colonel who led a helicopter platoon during the 1991 Gulf War.

He taught math at the US Military Academy and jumped out of planes for the Army, before moving to Houston in 2000 to work with NASA´s shuttle training aircraft. 

He became an astronaut in 2004, flying on the shuttle in 2008 and launching eight years later in a Russian capsule to the space station he helped build.

Pilot Megan McArthur, 49, NASA

McArthur is flying in the same seat as husband Bob Behnken did during SpaceX’s debut crew launch nearly a year ago. 

It’s been 11 years since she last rocketed into orbit, aboard a shuttle on NASA’s final Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.  

McArthur conducted graduate research in underwater acoustics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, led diving expeditions and tested water equipment. She became an astronaut in 2000.

Thomas Pesquet, 43, ESA

He was flying for Air France when the European Space Agency chose him as an astronaut 12 years ago.   

He joined the French Space Agency as an engineer in 2002. Two years later, Air France tapped him for its flight training program. 

Pesquet launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the space station in 2016 for a six-month mission.

Akihiko Hoshide, 52, JAXA

He joined the Japanese Space Agency right out of college in 1992 as an engineer, working on the H-II rocket. 

He made the astronaut cut seven years later and helped develop Japan´s Kibo lab for the space station. 

He installed Kibo, or Hope, in 2008, launching aboard shuttle Discovery. Hoshide returned to the station in 2012 for six months, flying from Kazakhstan.  

NASA gets first weather report from the Jerezo Crater Mars using a system strapped to Perseverance

NASA has shared the first weather report from Jezero Crater on Mars – and the once ancient lake appears to experience frigid temperatures.

The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system aboard the Perseverance rover captured the surrounded temperatures for 30 minutes February 19 at around 10:25pm ET.

The data shows that it was just below -4F on the surface when MEDA turned on, but dropped to -14F 30 minutes later.

MEDA is designed with a suite of environmental sensors to record dust levels and six atmospheric conditions, along with the ability to measure radiation budge near the surface that will help prepare the first humans to explore Mars.

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The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system aboard the Perseverance rover captured the surrounded temperatures for 30 minutes February 19 at around 10:25pm ET (pictured) 

Jose Antonio Rodriguez Manfredi, MEDA principal investigator with the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial in Madrid, said: ‘After a nail-biting entry descent and landing phase, our MEDA team anxiously awaited the first data that would confirm our instrument landed safely.

‘Those were moments of great intensity and excitement. Finally, after years of work and planning, we received the first data report from MEDA.

‘Our system was alive and sending its first meteorological data and images from the SkyCam.’

MEDA is strapped to Perseverance’s mast by an extendable arm that is released periodically to check the weather.

The data shows that it was just below -4F on the surface of the Jezero Crater (pictured) when MEDA turned on, but dropped to -14F 30 minutes later

The data shows that it was just below -4F on the surface of the Jezero Crater (pictured) when MEDA turned on, but dropped to -14F 30 minutes later

MEDA is strapped to Perseverance's mast by an extendable arm that is released periodically to check the weather. It weighs about 12 pounds and is able to capture wind (both speed and direction), pressure, relative humidity, air temperature, ground temperature, and radiation (from both the Sun and space

MEDA is strapped to Perseverance’s mast by an extendable arm that is released periodically to check the weather. It weighs about 12 pounds and is able to capture wind (both speed and direction), pressure, relative humidity, air temperature, ground temperature, and radiation (from both the Sun and space

It weighs about 12 pounds and is able to capture wind (both speed and direction), pressure, relative humidity, air temperature, ground temperature and radiation (from both the Sun and space).

The system wakes itself up every hour, and after recording and storing data, it goes to sleep independently of rover operations.

And MEDA can operate even if Perseverance is asleep.

When NASA received the first weather report, they quickly went to work to piece it together.

It weighs about 12 pounds and is able to capture wind, pressure, relative humidity, air temperature, ground temperature and radiation

It weighs about 12 pounds and is able to capture wind, pressure, relative humidity, air temperature, ground temperature and radiation

MEDA’s radiation and dust sensor showed Jezero was experiencing a cleaner atmosphere than Gale Crater around the same time, roughly 2,300 miles away, according to reports from the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) aboard the Curiosity rover stationed inside Gale.

And MEDA’s pressure sensors told engineers the pressure on Mars was 718 Pascals, well within the 705-735 Pascal range predicted by their models for that time on Mars. 

The system will collect, store and transmit particles interact with light, ultimately affecting both the temperature and weather. 

Although these data points help NASA better prepare Perseverance, the measurements are also vital for future space faring heroes and hobbits that will one day travel to Mars.   

Manuel de la Torre Juárez, deputy principal investigator for MEDA at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said: ‘We’re very excited to see MEDA working well.

As Ingenuity achieved pre-flight milestones, a MEDA report from the 43rd and 44th Martian days, or sols, of the mission (April 3 to 4 on Earth) showed a temperature high of -7.6F and low of -117.4 F in Jezero Crater. MEDA also measured wind gusts at around 22 mph

As Ingenuity achieved pre-flight milestones, a MEDA report from the 43rd and 44th Martian days, or sols, of the mission (April 3 to 4 on Earth) showed a temperature high of -7.6F and low of -117.4 F in Jezero Crater. MEDA also measured wind gusts at around 22 mph

 ‘MEDA’s reports will provide a better picture of the environment near the surface. Data from MEDA and other instrument experiments will reveal more pieces of the puzzles on Mars and help prepare for human exploration. We hope that its data will help make our designs stronger and our missions safer.’  

MEDA can record the temperature at three atmospheric heights: 2.76 feet, 4.76 feet , and 98.43 feet, in addition to the surface temperature. 

The system uses sensors on the rover’s body and mast and an infrared sensor capable of measuring temperature nearly 100 feet above the rover, which is crucial for when the Ingenuity helicopter takes flight.

As Ingenuity achieved pre-flight milestones, a MEDA report from the 43rd and 44th Martian days, or sols, of the mission (April 3 to 4 on Earth) showed a temperature high of -7.6F and low of -117.4 F in Jezero Crater. MEDA also measured wind gusts at around 22 mph.

Perseverance, along with its travel companion Ingenuity, touched down on Mars  February 18 with the mission of search for signs of ancient life in the Jezero Crater in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth.

NASA MARS 2020: THE MISSION WILL SEE THE PERSEVERANCE ROVER AND INGENUITY HELICOPTER SEARCH FOR LIFE

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth. 

Named Perseverance, the main car-sized rover will explore an ancient river delta within the Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600ft deep lake.

It is believed that the region hosted microbial life some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and the rover will examine soil samples to hunt for evidence of the life.

Nasa's Mars 2020 rover (artist's impression) will search for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet

Nasa’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) will search for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet

The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside – and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.

Perseverance landed inside the crater and will collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis.

A second mission will fly to the planet and return the samples, perhaps by the later 2020s in partnership with the European Space Agency.

This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA's 'sky-crane' system

This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA’s ‘sky-crane’ system