It was two years ago and it was historic: SpaceX was sending people into space for the first time. Since then, it has become somewhat commonplace for the American company.
It was June 30, 2020. A Falcon 9 rocket pulled away from Earth’s gravity for a very special mission. Indeed, it was the first time in almost ten years that an American vehicle had launched into space with a crew on board. Inside the launch vehicle chartered by SpaceX were two NASA astronauts: Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken. Their mission: to reach the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission, titled Demo-2, was a success. After almost 63 days on board the ISS, at an altitude of 400 kilometers, the two men returned to Earth with a landing off the coast of Florida. In doing so, SpaceX paved the way for the resumption of human spaceflight from the United States, almost a decade after the retirement of the American space shuttle – it was retired from active service in July 2011.
In many ways, this mission conducted two years ago was historic: it marked the return of the United States to the space race, with the re-establishment of its own capabilities for autonomous access to the extra -atmospheric. Above all, the mission involved an American company, with a ship launched from American soil, with a national crew inside. All the right boxes were checked.
Since then, SpaceX has not been idle. After Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, who were seen as precursors, the American company carried out six other manned missions, always from the USA, always with an American rocket. But on the passenger side, an openness to other nationalities has been observed, within the framework of partnerships with foreign space agencies or private flights for tourist purposes.
For two years, 24 people have already been transported between Earth and space by the care of SpaceX – one could almost say that a certain routine has settled for society, that it has become ” banal”. Just as the automatic returns of the first stage of each launched rocket have become trivial, to be reused later.
SpaceX’s first operational mission to the ISS, for a period of six months (November 2020 – May 2021). Victor J. Glover was making his very first spaceflight, the other three having already been sent two or even three times to the ISS.
- Michael Hopkins (American, flight commander);
- Victor J. Glover (American, pilot);
- Soichi Noguchi (Japanese, mission specialist);
- Shannon Walker (American, mission specialist);
New SpaceX mission to the ISS, which this time took place from April to November 2021. This mission was particularly followed in France, due to the presence of Thomas Pesquet on board.
- Robert Shane Kimbrough (American, Flight Commander);
- Megan McArthur (American, pilot);
- Akihiko Hoshide (Japanese, mission specialist);
- Thomas Pesquet (French, mission specialist);
Inspiration 4 was SpaceX’s first manned space mission that did not involve the ISS. It involved sending a capsule into orbit around the Earth for three days. None of the passengers were professional astronauts.
- Jared Isaacman (American, Flight Commander);
- Sian Proctor (American, pilot);
- Hayley Arceneaux (American, mission specialist);
- Christopher Sembroski (American, mission specialist);
New six-month mission, with similar characteristics to Crew-1 and Crew-2. It took place from November 2021 to May 2022. Only Thomas Mashburn was a veteran. The other three were making their very first spaceflight.
- Raja Chari (American, flight commander);
- Thomas Marshburn (American, pilot);
- Kayla Barron (American, mission specialist);
- Matthias Maurer (German, mission specialist);
First American private space mission to the ISS, under the aegis of SpaceX, in partnership with Axiom. Michael López-Alegría is the only professional astronaut. The other three are tourists. They spent 17 days on the ISS.
- Michael López-Alegría (American, flight commander);
- Larry Connor (American, pilot);
- Eytan Stibbe (Israeli, mission specialist);
- Mark Pathy (Canadian, mission specialist);
SpaceX’s most recent manned mission. She left in April 2022 and is due to last another six months there. Return scheduled for September. Jessica Watkins is the first black woman to join the ISS.
- Kjell N. Lindgren (American, flight commander);
- Robert Hines (American, pilot);
- Samantha Cristoforetti (Italian, mission specialist);
- Jessica Watkins (American, mission specialist);