- SpaceX launched its first long-term astronaut mission to NASA on Sunday, blowing up a crew of four into orbit.
- Soichi Noguchi, one of those astronauts, said the Crew Dragon was the “best” spaceship that had ever flown.
- Noguchi is only the third person to have ever flown three different spacecraft: Crew Dragon, NASA’s space shuttle and Russia’s Soyuz.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Soichi Noguchi knows his way around a spaceship – actually a few.
The 55-year-old astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will spend more than a year of his life in orbit until he and three other SpaceX Crew-1
When asked who his favorite was this week, Noguchi did not hesitate, “The dragon is the best,” he told reporters on Thursday after he and his crew arrived at the International Space Station.
“I feel that Dragon is really ready to climb, it’s really fun to ride and two days in Dragon are really remarkable memories,” added Noguchi.
Noguchi also wants to fly on the SpaceX spacecraft one day
Noguchi, an aeronautical engineer, is one of the most experienced active astronauts in the world. His first space flight was aboard NASA’s space shuttle, the first to return to space since the deadly collapse of the Colombia space shuttle in 2003. Soguz’s flight to Noguchi took him to the space station for a six-month stay four years later.
The current mission should also last six months.
The veteran astronaut is still hoping to add a fourth spacecraft to his list: the SpaceX starship, the company’s planned launch system for trips to the moon and Mars. SpaceX is still prototyping the rocket and spacecraft, but founder Elon Musk plans to send Starship on a private one-week mission around the moon sometime in the next few years.
Noguchi told Business Insider in early October that he was actively discussing a place in the mission with his financier, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
“I’m really happy to talk 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 the first full-length SpaceX mission for NASA – the first of six that Elon Musk’s rocket company has signed with the space agency. In addition to Noguchi, the crew consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, who is currently the first woman to ever fly a commercial spaceship.
Hopkins echoed Noguchi’s comments about the excitement of launching aboard the Dragon Crew.
“When you sit there on the rocket as it goes through the loading process, you know there is noise and vibration and in many senses you can tell it wants to come down from the ground,” he said. “You just jumped off the mat, it was amazing.”
Hopkins has flown the Soyuz spacecraft before, but Glover, the mission pilot, has never been in space.
“It was great. The dragon performed superbly,” Glover said, adding, “after the second stage was cut and you sailed – I was able to feel it for a few seconds, but having it for a long time was really amazing.”
The dragon from the crew landed at the International Space Station on Monday after a 27-hour journey. Once the astronauts were ready to enter the orbital laboratory, they swam through the hatch one by one.
When it was Noguchi’s turn, he sent the stuffed animal to Baby Yoda, which the crew brought as a zero-gravity indicator floating in front of him.
Dave Mosher contributed to the reporting.