Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its third crewed rocket for NASA, sending four more astronauts to the space station and marking the first time the company achieved the takeoff with both a pre-used capsule and rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:49 a.m. ET Friday—with a low rumble and leaving behind a trail of fire and smoke in the predawn darkness—from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The capsule successfully docked early Saturday with the International Space Station, joining an earlier group of four astronauts who traveled there on SpaceX’s first operational mission in November and three others also on board.
The mission marks a number of firsts for SpaceX. It is the first time that two of the company’s Crew Dragon capsules will be simultaneously docked at the ISS. It is also the first time the rocket has carried two international partners, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency. They join Americans Shane Kimbrough, the mission’s commander, and Megan McArthur, the spacecraft’s pilot. The crew will be stationed at the space station for a six-month mission.
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