On what was a historic day for spaceflight last Saturday, four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft — marking the first time a rocket booster has been reused for a space mission with a crew on board.
Dubbed Crew-2, the mission is the third-ever crewed flight for Elon Musk’s company and the first to recycle a capsule from a previous spaceflight. The team, made up of astronauts from three different countries, spent 24 hours soaring through orbit at more than 17,000 miles per hour, as the spacecraft made its way to the ISS.
According to NASA, the astronauts will spend most of their time on the ISS researching “tissue chips,” or “small models of human organs containing multiple cell types that behave much the same as they do in the body” and that the space agency hopes will advance the development of drugs and vaccines.
The mission represents a milestone for SpaceX’s efforts to reduce the costs of spaceflight by reusing spacefaring hardware. Reusable rocket boosters, engineered to land safely back on Earth, instead of falling into the sea, are key to recycling the rocket boosters and make spaceflight more economical and sustainable.