The Falcon 9 rocket put on a breath-taking show as the glows from the rocket’s engines lit up the sky
A slightly sooty Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule, lighting up the predawn sky as it lifted off from the historic Pad 39A, took to the skies above NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) on April 23 2021.
The launch the Falcon 9 rocket kicked off SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, which will carry four astronauts – NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japanese space flyer Akihiko Hoshide on a 24-hour flight to International Space Station (ISS).
With the closeout crews completing leak and communications checks ahead of schedule, the launch countdown of the Falcon 9 rocket proceeded smoothly. While waiting for the leak checks to be completed, the crew was relaxed and even enjoyed a quick game that resembled rock, paper and scissors (but was actually a game Thomas played as a kid and shared with his crewmates).
“Our crew is flying astronauts from NASA, ESA and JAXA, which hasn’t happened in over 20 years,” Kimbrough told SpaceX flight controllers as he thanked the NASA and SpaceX teams just before launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. “Off the Earth, for the Earth, Endeavour is ready to go”.
The Falcon 9 rocket put on a breath-taking show as the glows from the rocket’s engines lit up the sky.
“Predawn launches are always amazing”, said Steve Jurzcyk, acting administrator at NASA during the webcast. “It was thrilling to see”.
The skies were clear enough that onlookers could see the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket relight as the first stage made its way back to Earth.
A massive space jellyfish or nebula cloud formed in the sky. These types of trippy effects are typical during twilight conditions present at dawn and dusk, and the launch did not disappoint.
The launch of Crew-2 was one for the history books and has marked several firsts, including the first time that people have flown on a used Crew Dragon and with a used Falcon 9 rocket first stage. Also, the first two different international astronauts have ridden in the capsule.
Also lifted off in May of 2020, the Crew Dragon vehicle, known as Endeavour had carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS on the Demo-2 test flight, SapceX’s first-ever crewed mission.
“Glad to be back in space for all of us”, Kimbrough radioed SpaceX flight controllers after reaching orbit.