Astronauts Took A Fly-around of the International Space Station. Here are Their Stunning Pictures

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA

When astronauts left the International Space Station in early November to return home on the Crew Dragon Endeavour, they took the opportunity to do a fly-around of the ISS and take photos. NASA just released the new images, and they are a stunning look at both the orbiting outpost and our home planet.

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Crew-2 Safely Returns from ISS — without a working toilet

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, left, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide, right, are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Four astronauts splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule, despite one of the parachutes not deploying immediately. Their spectacular return in darkness from the International Space Station capped off the record-setting mission for the SpaceX Crew-2, with the longest spaceflight by a U.S. crewed spacecraft. Their 199 days in orbit surpassed the 168 days set by NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission earlier this year.

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SpaceX Launches Four Civilians to Space with Inspiration4!

Credit: Alex Brock

Update: SpaceX has posted footage of what its like to see Earth from space when peering through the Resilience‘s cupola!

Today, history was made when the first all-civilian spaceflight launched from Launch Complex 39A at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The purpose of this flight was to raise awareness and funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and offer inspiration to people all over the world. Operated by SpaceX and sponsored by Jared Isaacman and Shift4Payments, this flight illustrates how accessibility to space is growing by leaps and bounds.

The mission began at 08:02 PM local time (05:02 PM PST) as the Crew Dragon spacecraft blasted off the launch pad atop a SpaceX Falcon 9. The rocket lifted off without any issues and soared into the night sky, rapidly gaining altitude towards orbit. During the next few minutes, the mission controllers at SpaceX watched in anticipation and waited for updates. They were joined by people all over the world watching the many live streams of the event.

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NASA Changes its Mind. It Will be Using Previously Flown Crew Dragons and Falcon 9

Credit: SpaceX

For the purpose of restoring domestic launch capability to US soil, NASA launched the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) in 2010. Alongside its commercial partners, Boeing and SpaceX, the focus of this program has been to develop crew-capable spacecraft that could deliver payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), something NASA has been unable to do since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.

On May 30th, 2020, the CCP fulfilled its purpose as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket and successfully delivered two astronauts (Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley) to the ISS. Looking ahead, NASA and SpaceX have modified their contract agreement, which gives the company permission to use previously-flown Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 boosters to send NASA astronauts to the ISS.

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Crew Dragon Will Be Launching on May 27th

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. Credits: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting May 27, 2020 for an historic mission: the launch of the first astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the destination as the International Space Station (ISS). The crew, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, are scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 pm EDT that day from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon will autonomously dock with the space station about 24 hours later.

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Crew Dragon Abort Test is Scheduled for Saturday Morning

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. Credits: SpaceX

As part of their Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program, NASA has contracted with aerospace giants like SpaceX and Boeing to provide commercial launch services to the International Space Station (ISS). These services will consist of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon (Dragon 2) and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner bringing astronauts to orbit in the coming years, effectively restoring domestic launch capability to the US.

To get these spacecraft ready for flight, Boeing and SpaceX have been putting them through rigorous launch tests. Tomorrow morning (Saturday, Jan. 17th), SpaceX will be conducting its final test in preparation for crewed flights. This is the all-important in-flight abort test, which will be live-streamed by NASA TV – will take place at 7:45 AM EST (4:45 AM PST) from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

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Crew Dragon Exploded Back in April Because of a Nitrogen Tetroxide Leak

SpaceX Dragon 2 crew vehicle, powered by eight SuperDraco engines, conducts propulsive hover test at the company’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Credit: SpaceX

On Saturday, April 20th, 2019, an explosion took place on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The company was engaged in a series of static fire engine tests for their Crew Dragon‘s In-Flight Abort test vehicle. This vehicle is essential for crewed missions since it acts as a sort of ejection seat for the crew capsule in the event of an emergency.

While the initial tests of the twelve Draco thrusters on the vehicle were completed successfully, the initiation of the final test of eight SuperDraco thrusters resulted in the destruction of the vehicle. After a thorough investigation, SpaceX has concluded that the explosion was caused by a nitrogen tetroxide leak that occurred just prior to the final test.

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Ho-Hum. More Boring Success for SpaceX as Crew Dragon Splashes Down

The SpaceX Crew Dragon about to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Image Credit: NASA/SpaceX
The SpaceX Crew Dragon about to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Image Credit: NASA/SpaceX

A few hours ago, the SpaceX Crew Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off the coast of Florida. The splashdown is the last act in what has been a successful first flight for the Crew Dragon. The flight, called Demo-1, was launched on March 2nd and spent five days at the International Space Station (ISS).

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Another Milestone for SpaceX as Crew Dragon Docks with ISS

SpaceX's powerful Falcon 9 engines sending the Crew Dragon on its way to the ISS. Image Credit: Alex Brock.
SpaceX's powerful Falcon 9 engines sending the Crew Dragon on its way to the ISS. Image Credit: Alex Brock.

It’s another milestone for SpaceX as their Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station.

In the early morning of March 2nd, the unmanned Crew Dragon launched from complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Then on March 3, at approximately 6:00 AM, the spacecraft successfully docked with the space station. Universe Today had a photographer, Alex Brock, at the launch to capture the action.

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NASA has Cleared Crew Dragon to Fly. Demo-1 Launches on March 2

An illustration of the SpaceX Dragon docking with the International Space Station. Image Credit: SpaceX
An illustration of the SpaceX Dragon docking with the International Space Station. Image Credit: SpaceX

NASA has announced that the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is ready for its first demo flight. After discussions with SpaceX, both NASA and Elon Musk’s private space company determined that it was time for Dragon to fly. The date for the flight is March 2nd.

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