SpaceX just set a new record for the fastest astronaut’s dragon flight to date.
Elon Musk’s spaceflight company has launched four Crew-4 astronauts to International Space Station NASA in less than 16 hours on Wednesday (April 27), the shortest flight time since then SpaceX Manned flights began in 2020.
“This is the fastest docking launch we’ve ever done,” Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, told reporters after the launch early Wednesday. “It’s about the same time it takes to get from New York to Singapore, so it’s kind of interesting.”
SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts launched On a new Crew Dragon capsule called Freedom and Falcon 9 at 3:52 a.m. EDT (0752 GMT) from NASA’s Pad 39A Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts arrived at the space station later that night, and docked at 7:37 p.m. EDT (2337 GMT). Total flight time: 15 hours and 45 minutes.
For comparison, the first manned flight of SpaceX for NASA, The Demo-2 mission in May 2020took about 19 hours to reach the station, while NASA’s final Crew-3 flight took almost a full day.
“I would say it’s kind of lucky in terms of how that happened,” said Jesica Jensen, SpaceX’s vice president of customer operations and integration, adding that any delay could have changed the flight time. “You can vary 10 to 20 hours of scaling that you just know in a day or two. It’s not really that we’ve changed anything, it’s just the orbital mechanics of where the ISS is and where it comes in over Florida.”
The Crew-4 mission launched three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut to the space station to begin a six-month mission. On-board dragon crewKjell Lindgren, named Freedom, was Crew-4 mission commander; Bob Hines pilot. task specialist Jessica Watkins (all NASA); and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.
SpaceX’s shortest flight came before a flight space walk (Extra-Vehicle Activity, or EVA in NASA parlance) was carried out by two Russian astronauts outside the space station Thursday, so the Dragon crew’s berthing and stabilization quickly was a bonus, NASA officials said.
“This short date was very favorable for us,” Stitch said. “We can get to the station a little faster and can make the preparations we need once we’ve docked to get the dragon ready 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 bears this title Holds a Guinness World Records number For the fastest time to station B 3 hours and 3 minutes trip in October 2020.