SpaceX returns to the ISS on its third mission2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
SpaceX has made headlines over the past year since the Starship program is now about to launch its first few prototypes. But another thing they have accomplished has been under the shadows of Starship for quite some time. This is their crewed launches to the International Space Station. And just last week, SpaceX, on its third mission, sent a four-person crew (Crew-2) to the ISS.
Wait, SpaceX has already taken people to the ISS twice?
Back in late May of 2020, with the coronavirus raging throughout the US, two astronauts suited up for a historic launch. After the Space Shuttle had been retired in 2011 by NASA, there was no American vehicle to return humans to the ISS. So, NASA paid a hefty price to the Soviet Union to take American astronauts to the ISS with Russia’s Soyuz capsule. Since NASA was hoping to avoid the hefty price in the future, it endorsed two private companies to build capsules. SpaceX and Boeing. SpaceX returned humans to the ISS from American soil first last year.
SpaceX’s Crew 1 mission, which we reported about, left to the ISS in November 2020. Their mission is currently ongoing, and they are set to return on April 28, 2021.
What’s special about this third mission?
This third mission reused both the capsule and first stage booster from the first mission. SpaceX originally planned to use each of its Dragon capsules once for human use, then reuse it for cargo supply missions to the ISS. But they changed their plans, and refurbished the Dragon capsule to reuse for this Crew2 mission. What’s even cooler is that Bob Behnken was an astronaut on the first mission. And his wife is part of the crew on this one. They even sat in the same seat in the same capsule!
SpaceX has made history with this big achievement in spaceflight. We look forward to seeing Crew-1 return and watching Crew-2 do their job on the ISS!