CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The most experienced astronaut on SpaceX’s newly launched crew said Thursday that riding a Dragon capsule to orbit is like being inside the actual mythical beast, and a lot more fun than NASA's shuttles or Russian flights.
As for the crew's space rookie, he pulled more G's, or gravity forces, flying fighter jets in the Navy, but they didn't last nearly as long as they did during his “awesome” first rocket launch, he said.
SpaceX delivered its second crew of astronauts to the International Space Station late Monday night, just 27 hours after their launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
In their first press conference from orbit, the four astronauts described Sunday night's launch and their first impressions of the space station, their new home until spring.
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi — who became only the third person to launch aboard three kinds of spacecraft — said "the Dragon is the best, short answer.” He said the Dragon “really wanted to go to space,” something he could feel as the Falcon 9 rocket was being fueled minutes before liftoff and later in the launch as thrusters fired right outside his window seat.
“This feels like you are actually inside a dragon bringing us up to space, so that was quite a feeling,” he told reporters.
First-time space flyer Victor Glover, the crew's pilot, said the G-forces gradually built up after the rocket's second stage kicked in.
“In a fighter, you can't hold 4 G's for several minutes, not most aircraft,” Glover noted. “I've been able to feel that for a few seconds. But to have that for an extended period was just truly amazing.”