Story at a glance

  • The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to kick off a six-month science mission on the ISS.
  • The launch was the first time the private rocket company reused a capsule and rocket to launch astronauts for NASA.
  • SpaceX has two more astronaut missions in the works for this year, including NASA’s Crew-3 mission scheduled for this fall and a mission to launch a group of civilians.

SpaceX on Friday successfully launched its third crew of astronauts to the International Space Station, marking the first time a recycled rocket and capsule was used to fly humans into space. 

Just before 6 a.m. Eastern time, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to kick off a six-month science mission on the space station. 


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Inside the Dragon spacecraft was an international group of astronauts dubbed Crew-2, which includes NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, as well as Akihiko Hoshide of Japan and Thomas Pesquet of France. After the launch, SpaceX landed the first stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket on a ship at sea, which can be reused for future missions. 

The Crew Dragon is expected to dock with the International Space Station around 5:10 a.m. Saturday where the group of astronauts will join seven other astronauts already on board. The Crew Dragon will join Crew-1 astronauts who launched in November and will spend about five days together on the station before Crew-1 makes a return to Earth. 

“Thrilled to be part of advancing human spaceflight and looking forward to going beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars, and helping make humanity a spacefaring civilization,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said following the launch. 

The launch was the first time the private rocket company reused a capsule and rocket to launch astronauts for NASA. The Crew Dragon known as Endeavour had previously lifted off in May 2020, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS on the Demo-2 test flight, SpaceX’s first crewed mission. 

SpaceX has two more astronaut missions in the works for this year, including NASA’s Crew-3 mission scheduled for this fall and a mission to launch a group of civilians that could happen by September. The Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private initiative to revive human spaceflight capabilities in the U.S. 

“It took 10 years to get here. To achieve this bold mission we had for commercial crew. Again, it’s been amazing what the team has been able to accomplish,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said in a post-launch news conference.


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Published on Apr 23, 2021