SpaceX launches four astronauts to International Space Station
© Getty Images

SpaceX on Friday successfully launched four astronauts en route to the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 launched at 5:49 a.m. Friday from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew is expected to reach the International Space Station Saturday at 5:10 a.m.

SpaceX and NASA both posted photos and videos of the liftoff early Friday morning.


Flying in the craft were Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of the U.S., Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet of France.

The astronauts are expected to spend six months conducting experiments and maintenance aboard the space station before returning to Earth, according to Reuters. They will join four other astronauts that are currently at the International Space Station that are due to return home on April 28.

Friday’s flight is the third launched into orbit under NASA’s public-private partnership with SpaceX, Reuters noted.

The flight was the first that NASA allowed SpaceX to use a previously-flown rocket and capsule in another human spaceflight, The Wall Street Journal reported. The rocket was used in the first operation launch in November, while the capsule was used in a test launch in May.

Another team of astronauts is expected to be sent to the space station in the fall for a six-month stint, according to the Journal.

CNBC reported that SpaceX plans to use the Falcon rocket again for future missions.