On a clear Friday morning, at 5:49 a.m., the Crew-2 mission lifted off from LC-39A. Launching into orbital sunrise, the Falcon 9 rocket’s exhaust plume generated a magnificent neon-blue nebula that stretched across the northern horizon – easily visible from many parts of Lake Nona. It was quite possibly one of the most beautiful things we have ever witnessed. The atmospheric effect that was responsible for this awe-inspiring display is called twilight phenomena. It typically occurs when a rocket launches 30-60 minutes before sunrise or 30-60 minutes after sunset.
The SpaceX Crew-2 mission carried four veteran astronauts to the International Space Station for what will be an approximately six-month stay. The astronauts are Shane Kimbrough (commander), Megan McArthur (pilot), Akihiko Hoshide (mission specialist 1), and Thomas Pesquet (mission specialist 2). This represents the second operational flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The Dragon capsule on this mission, Endeavour, had previously been flown on the historic Demo-2 mission that had launched Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley less than one year prior. Consequently, Megan McArthur actually flew in the same capsule as her husband, Bob Behnken! Another interesting crew fact – Akihiko Hoshide has now flown on three separate spacecrafts: the Space Shuttle in 2008, Soyuz in 2012, and now Crew Dragon in 2021. That is an impressive amount of flight experience!
The next crewed launch, Crew-3, has a NET (No Earlier Than) date of Oct. 23. That may be a long wait, yet there will be many amazing launches in the interim. We will be here to document and share them with you.