NASA Turns To Private Partners As Space Race Heats Up

A new crew was sent to the International Space Station in a combined project

NASA Turns To Private Partners As Space Race Heats Up

Days after India landed a rover on the south side of the Moon in Chandrayaan-3, the world's premier state-run space agency - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on Friday launched a new multinational space mission in collaboration with Elon Musk's company, SpaceX.

The rocket with the SpaceX capsule took off from the Kennedy Space Centre before dawn, carrying astronauts from the US, Denmark, Japan and Russia.

They will replace four astronauts who have been living in the floating International Space Station (ISS) since March. The four-member crew will stay in the space station for six months.

The mission is led by NASA's Jasmin Moghbeli, a marine pilot who is now serving as the mission's commander.

Moghbeli is accompanied by European Space Agency's Andreas Mogensen, Japan's Satoshi Furukawa and Russia's Konstantin Borisov.

Americans and Europeans, however, believe that space is a subject that needs to be tackled together through international cooperation rather than independently through solo missions in a veiled jibe towards India and Russia, who have seen solo missions to the Moon in recent weeks.

Moghbeli is of Iranian origin and was born in Germany but grew up in the US. She signed up to serve in the military and saw action in Afghanistan piloting attack helicopters.

Mogensen used to work on oil rigs off the West African coast. His inclusion on the team, he said, is a sense of Deja Vu with the popular movie "Armageddon" where Bruce Willis' character is an oil driller and is sent to space to drill on an asteroid.

Furukawa is a surgeon and is returning to the international space station.

Russian Borisov is making his first foray into space. He studied business before turning to engineering.

Stronger together

SpaceX, which has pioneered reusable rockets, saw its Falcon 9 rocket liftoff with the Dragon spacecraft, launching astronauts into orbit. Then its first-stage booster returned to Cape Canaveral several minutes after liftoff.

Named Endurance, the Dragon spacecraft will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 8:39 a.m. Sunday, August 27.

Liftoff had been delayed a day for additional data reviews of the capsule's life-support system.

Another NASA launch is expected in mid-September from Kazakhstan. That launch will include two Russians.

SpaceX has now launched eight crews for NASA.