SpaceX launches multinational crew on mission to International Space Station
A crew of four is on its way to the International Space Station after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The pre-dawn launch sent an international crew on a six-month mission to the space station.
The nine engines of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 3:27 a.m. ET, launching the Dragon Capsule on a 29-hour flight to catch up with and dock to the station.
About eight minutes after launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket returned to the Space Coast, landing vertically at Cape Canaveral and bringing a sonic boom to parts of Central Florida.
The launch of the Crew-7 mission comes a day after teams at NASA and SpaceX scrubbed a launch attempt Friday, giving engineers additional time to investigate an issue with the capsule’s life support system. After a review, NASA said the system was safe to fly and proceeded with Saturday morning's countdown.
The four people on board this capsule are mission commander and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency astronaut (and mission pilot) Andreas Mogensen, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furakawa and Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.
This is the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov. It’s the second for Mogensen and Furakawa.
Once the crew arrives at the station Sunday morning, the four will spend about six months living and working on board the orbiting lab.
They'll take over for Crew-6, which arrived at the station back in March. The four members of that crew will return to Earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule in the next few days, splashing down of the coast of Florida.
NASA pays SpaceX for crew transports to the space station. The company has now launched eight NASA crew missions and three private human launches.
NPR's Russell Lewis contributed to this report