SpaceX has just set a new record for the fastest dragon flight astronaut to date.
The Elon Musk spacecraft launched four Crew-4 astronauts at NASA International Space Station in less than 16 hours on Wednesday (April 27), the shortest flight time since SpaceX’s manned flights began in 2020.
“This is the fastest docking launch we’ve ever made,” Steve Stitch, director of the NASA Commercial Crew Program, told reporters after the launch on Wednesday. “It’s taking about the same amount of time from New York to Singapore, so it’s interesting.”
Launch of SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts in a new Crew Dragon capsule called Freedom and Falcon 9 at 3.52 EDT (0752 GMT) from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts arrived at the space station later that night and docked at 19.37 EDT (2337 GMT). Total flight time: 15 hours and 45 minutes.
Related: Great shot images of SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts
By comparison, SpaceX’s first manned flight to NASA, The Demo-2 Mission in May 2020, took about 19 hours to get to the station, while NASA’s last flight of Crew-3 took almost a full day.
“I would say it’s lucky in terms of how it happened,” said Jesica Jensen, vice president of operations and customer integration at SpaceX, adding that any delay could have changed the flight time. “You can vary the 10-20 hour break you know in a day or two. We really haven’t changed anything, it’s just orbital mechanics of where the ISS is and where it arrives in Florida. ”
The Crew-4 mission triggered three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut to start a six-month mission. Kjell Lindgren, named Freedom, was the commander of Crew-4; The pilot of Bob Hines. mission expert Jessica Watkins (all of NASA); and Samantha Cristoforetti, European Space Agency mission expert.
SpaceX’s shortest flight took place before the spaceflight NASA officials said two Russian astronauts were performing an ExtraVehicle Activity (or EVA in NASA) outside the space station on Thursday, after which the spacecraft was docked and stabilized. The quick action of the Dragon crew was a bonus.
“That short date was very favorable for us,” Stitch said. “We got to the station a little faster and can make the preparations we need as soon as we dock to make a dragon for EVA.”
While the Crew-4 Dragon was SpaceX’s fastest flight to the station, it wasn’t the fastest manned flight ever. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft still holds that title. He holds the fastest Guinness record number for Station B in 3 hours 3 minutes in October 2020.