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SpaceX captures the flag, beating Boeing in cosmic contest

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SpaceX captures the flag, beating Boeing in cosmic contest
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CAPE CANAVERAL: The first astronauts launched by SpaceX declared victory Monday in NASA’s cosmic capture-the-flag sport.

They shortly claimed the prize left behind on the International Space Station almost a decade in the past by the final crew to launch from the US.

“Congratulations, SpaceX, you bought the flag,” NASA astronaut Doug Hurley mentioned a day after arriving on the area station.

Hurley confirmed off the small US flag throughout a information convention and once more in a linkup with SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

“You can guess we are going to take it with us after we depart again to Earth,” mentioned Hurley, floating alongside Dragon crewmate Bob Behnken.

The flag flew on the primary area shuttle flight in 1981 and the ultimate one in 2011. Hurley was on that final shuttle crew.

The flag was an added incentive for Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm and Boeing, competing to be the primary non-public firm to launch a crew to the area station. Saturday’s liftoff of NASA astronauts was the primary from the U.S. in 9 years. Boeing’s first astronaut flight isn’t anticipated till subsequent yr. The crew will embrace Chris Ferguson, commander of the final shuttle flight who now works for Boeing.

“Proud to yield the title of “The final commander of an American launched spacecraft” to @Astro_Doug who, with @AstroBehnken, has returned US to area from KSC after 3,252 days. Well carried out,” Ferguson tweeted following the SpaceX liftoff.

An estimated 100,000 individuals — suppliers, distributors, engineers, and many others. — had been chargeable for Saturday’s flawless launch of take a look at pilots Hurley and Behnken aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule, additionally constructed and owned by SpaceX, docked on the area station Sunday.

“It’s awe-inspiring for all of us,” SpaceX supervisor Benji Reed advised the astronauts from Hawthorne.

Reed requested them in regards to the Falcon journey. Hurley mentioned he might really feel when the rocket went transonic and broke the sound barrier. The last push to orbit, on the second stage, was filled with vibrations and felt like “driving quick, very quick on a gravel highway,” he mentioned. The astronauts immediately went from pulling greater than three G’s — greater than thrice the pressure of Earth’s gravity — to zero gravity as quickly as they reached orbit.

“Sounds like the final word journey in a Batmobile with the jet engine turned on,” Reed mentioned.

Behnken mentioned one of many first issues he did upon reaching the orbiting lab was name his 6-year-old son, Theo, to listen to what’s was like to observe his father blast into area “and share that just a little bit with him whereas it was nonetheless recent in his thoughts.”

Hurley and Behnken spent Monday ensuring their docked Dragon is able to make an emergency getaway, if vital. The capsule will function their lifeboat throughout their area station go to. They joined three station residents — an American and two Russians.

NASA will resolve within the coming weeks how lengthy to maintain the pair there. Their mission might final anyplace from one to 4 months. The timing will depend upon Dragon checkouts in orbit and launch preparations for the corporate’s subsequent astronaut flight, at the moment focused for the top of August.

With a lot uncertainty and so many variables, Behnken mentioned it was just a little exhausting explaining to his son when he’d again.

“From his perspective, he’s simply excited that we’re going to get a canine once I get residence,” Behnken mentioned with a smile.


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