Sixty years ago Monday, a 27-year-old Russian test pilot named Yuri Gagarin strapped into a Vostok capsule in Central Asia and rode into orbit atop a launcher derived from a Soviet nuclear missile, becoming the first human to travel into the void of space. Twenty years later, in 1981, the era of reusable spacecraft dawned with the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.
Veteran Russian commander Oleg Novitskiy, rookie flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei launched into orbit Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT). The crew members rode a Soyuz capsule in pursuit of the International Space Station, where docking occurred at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT).
Mission controllers plan to unlock the blades on NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter and spin them up to more than 2,000 rpm for a test later this week, a bit of “calisthenics” before the rotorcraft’s first flight in the atmosphere of Mars as soon as this weekend, the helicopter’s operations lead said Monday.
In the home stretch of nearly a half-year on the International Space Station, four astronauts suited up and rode their SpaceX-owned Crew Dragon “Resilience” spaceship to a new docking port outside the orbiting research lab Monday, a first-of-its kind maneuver for the new generation of commercial crew spaceships.
Four astronauts strapped into their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Monday and rode along for an automated maneuver to relocate the capsule to a different docking port outside the International Space Station. The relocation maneuver, which concluded with a link-up with the new docking port 7:08 a.m. EDT (1108 GMT), was the first of its kind for a Crew Dragon spacecraft.