Photos Show Picture-Perfect Launch of SpaceX’s Crew-5 Mission to the ISS

Photos Show Picture-Perfect Launch of SpaceX’s Crew-5 Mission to the ISS

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off yesterday under Florida’s gorgeous blue skies. The views of the Crew-5 launch, both on Earth and in space, were truly spectacular, as these images attest.

Yesterday’s Crew-5 launch was SpaceX’s fifth commercial crew mission for NASA and the company’s eighth crewed launch to space overall. The private company’s crewed flights to space are starting to feel routine, but the stunning visuals from these missions will never grow old.

The Crew-5 crew

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Behold the intrepid Crew-5. From left to right is NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata. Kikina is the first cosmonaut to ride aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon, while Aunapu is now the first Native American woman in space.

The walkout

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Here, the Crew-5 astronauts prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for the launch complex, while NASA administrator Bill Nelson looks on.

Entering the crew access arm

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Cassada and Mann can be seen inside the crew access arm while Wakata and Kikina stand on the fixed service structure.

Strapped in and ready to go

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

The crew inside the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

Held up by a single human hair

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

Ground crews with SpaceX found a single hair inside the hatch seal, forcing a re-opening and closing of the hatch. The hair was deemed to be Foreign Object Debris (FOD) — an object that’s not supposed to be there and is potentially capable of causing damage. You can’t be too careful when lives are at stake.

Feel the heat

Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

An incredible view of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines fully ignited.

Next stop: low Earth orbit

Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SpaceX rocket just moments after lifting off from the launch pad.

Blast off!

Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The Falcon 9 blasts off, with SpaceX’s Kennedy facility in the foreground.

Godspeed, medium-lift rocket

Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA and SpaceX officials watching the Falcon 9 take flight. From left to right is Norm Knight, Emily Nelson, Sarah Walker, and David Allega.

Up and away!

Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

A cool long-exposure image showing the Falcon 9 launch from a low perspective. The rocket launched from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida — one week after Hurricane Ian swept through the region.

Florida recedes from view

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

A view from the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket when it was 13.6 miles (21.8 kilometres) above the surface and travelling at 2,198 km per hour (2,199 km/hr).

First stage separated

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

This view shows the ignition of the Falcon 9 upper stage shortly after the reusable first stage was discarded. At 60 miles (100 km) above the surface, the upper stage is technically in space at this point.

Successful landing

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

The Falcon 9 first stage performed a successful vertical landing on the Just Read the Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Einstein on board

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

A doll of Albert Einstein was used for the free-fall indicator, signalling the onset of microgravity conditions. The trip to the ISS will take nearly 29 hours.

Boop beep boop beep beep

Screenshot: SpaceX
Screenshot: SpaceX

Crew-5 is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS at 4:57 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 6, where they’ll be greeted by the Expedition 68 crew. The newly arrived astronauts will stay aboard the ISS for at least six months, where they will perform some 200 science and technology demonstrations.


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