ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

A new era in space exploration is set to begin on Sunday 15 November, with the first NASA crewed launch using Elon Musk’s SpaceX to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch has been billed as a ‘taxi service’, although Uber probably doesn’t have to worry about any competition.

According to the Guardian, three US astronauts and a Japanese colleague from JAXA are scheduled to lift off from Florida at 7.49 pm on Saturday 14 November (12.49 am on Sunday UK time) using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket, after the vehicle had been approved for use by NASA.

The launch was originally scheduled for 31 October but was rescheduled due to an ‘unexpected’ error. This will be SpaceX's second crewed flight for NASA, following the successful Demo-2 flight that launched in May, making history as the first private company to send humans into orbit.

NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, joined by Japan's Soichi Noguchi, will make the journey to the space station for a six-month stay, conducting scientific experiments and performing various other tasks.

The rocket will separate into a first stage and a second stage soon after lift-off. The first stage will go back to a SpaceX landing ship off Florida, while the second part will continue the journey with the capsule. Once in orbit, the capsule will separate from the second stage and head to the ISS, docking with the space station at 4.20 am on Sunday (9.20 am GMT).

Using SpaceX will save NASA a significant amount of money, costing around $55m (£40m) per astronaut, rather than the $90m (£67m) charged by Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency.

The astronauts will join NASA's Kate Rubins and Russia's Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov - to become part of the Expedition 64 crew.

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