Astronaut Soichi Noguchi has now flown on 3 different spaceships. SpaceX's Crew Dragon is 'the best,' he said.
SpaceXlaunched its first long-term astronaut mission for NASAon Sunday, blasting a crew of four into orbit.
- Soichi Noguchi, one of those astronauts, said
Crew Dragonis "the best" spacecraft he's ever flown.
- Noguchi is only the third person ever to fly on three different spaceships: Crew Dragon, NASA's
SpaceShuttle, and Russia's Soyuz.
Soichi Noguchi knows his way around a spaceship — several, in fact.The 55-year-old Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut will have spent more than a year of his life in orbit by the time he and the three other SpaceX
Noguchi wants to fly on SpaceX's Starship one day, too
Noguchi, an aeronautical engineer, is among the world's most experienced active astronauts. His first spaceflight was aboard NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery — the first to return to space after the deadly breakup of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Noguchi's Soyuz flight four years later took him to the space station for a six-month stay.The current mission is also slated to last six months.
The veteran astronaut is stil hoping to add a fourth spaceship to his list: SpaceX's Starship, the company's planned launch system for trips to the moon and Mars. SpaceX is still prototyping the rocket and spaceship, but founder Elon Musk plans to send a Starship on a private, week-long mission around the moon sometime in the next few years.Noguchi told Business Insider in early October that he is actively discussing a spot on that mission with its funder, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. "I'm really looking forward to talking to him after this mission," Noguchi said from space after the Crew-1 launch. "Who knows? I may have a chance to fly."
4 astronauts and Baby Yoda
Crew-1 is SpaceX's first full-length mission for NASA — the first of six that Elon Musk's rocket company has contracted with the space agency. In addition to Noguchi, the crew consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, who is now the first woman ever to fly on a commercial spaceship.
Hopkins echoed Noguchi's comments about the exhilaration of launching onboard the Crew Dragon."When you're sitting there on the rocket as it's going through the fuelling process, you know, there's noises and vibrations and in many senses just, you can tell it wants to get off the ground," he said. "It just leaped off the pad, it was amazing."
Hopkins had flown in a Soyuz spaceship before, but Glover, the mission's pilot, had never been to space.
"It was awesome. Dragon performed superb," Glover said, adding, "once the second stage cut off, and you're floating – I've been able to feel that for a few seconds, but to have that for an extended period was just truly amazing."The Crew Dragon docked to the International Space Station on Monday after a 27-hour journey. Once the astronauts were ready to enter the orbiting laboratory, they floated through the hatch one by one.
Dave Mosher contributed reporting.