SpaceX launches night flight sending crew to Space Station

SpaceX launches night flight sending crew to Space Station
© Associated Press/John Raoux

SpaceX launched its fifth human spaceflight mission on Wednesday at 9:04 p.m., sending four astronauts to the International Space Station to replace a recently returned crew. 

The crew — European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron — took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

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The crew of four are aiming to reach the International Space Station Thursday evening Eastern time, where they’ll join several other astronauts, including NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, according to The Washington Post. 

The crew of four will be in the space station for six months, where they will be conducting different scientific experiments. 

A livestream of the launch showed at least one of the astronauts waving at viewers as the otherwise calm crew made their way toward the space station.

Footage from the feed also showed a turtle that popped up inside the spacecraft, which indicated that the crew was now far enough along in its launch that gravitational forces were not applicable anymore, The Times noted.

Among those watching the launch was NASA Administrator Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson10 new astronaut candidates inaugurated at NASA NASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE.

“Enjoy your holidays amongst the stars,” the SpaceX launch director told the astronauts, according to The New York Times. 

"Liftoff! We’re seeing the power of American ingenuity right before our eyes," Nelson tweeted.

Four astronauts returned from the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Monday, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico at 10:30 p.m.

A NASA tally indicated that over 600 people have now launched into space, according to The Times.