Latest NASA-SpaceX capsule lifts-off

·2-min read

The latest team of astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station, after a successful liftoff for their SpaceX rocket despite poor weather at the Florida launch site.

The SpaceX-built launch vehicle, consisting of a Crew Dragon capsule perched on top of a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, climbed into the night sky from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The three US astronauts and their German colleague from the European Space Agency will arrive after about 22 hours' flying time and dock with the space station 400km above the earth to begin a six-month mission aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Intermittent showers and heavy clouds over the Cape on Wednesday had cast doubt on prospects for the launch proceeding as planned, but the weather had cleared sufficiently by launch time.

The flight marks the third 'operational' space station crew sent to orbit aboard a Dragon capsule since NASA and SpaceX teamed up to resume space launches from American soil last year, following a nine-year hiatus at the end of the US space shuttle program in 2011.

Joining the mission's three NASA astronauts - flight commander Raja Chari, 44, mission pilot Tom Marshburn (61), and mission specialist Kayla Barron (34) - is German astronaut Matthias Maurer (51).

Chari, a US Air Force pilot, Barron, a US Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer, and Maurer, a materials science engineer, are all making their debut spaceflights.

The three rookies will become the 599th, 600th and 601st humans in space.

Chari and Barron were also among the group of 18 astronauts selected last year for NASA's upcoming Artemis missions, aimed at returning humans to the moon later this decade, more than half a century after the Apollo lunar program ended.

Marshburn, a physician and former NASA flight surgeon, is the most experienced astronaut of the crew, having logged two previous spaceflights and four spacewalks.

He was part of a 13-member team that helped assemble the space station in 2009 and returned to the orbiting outpost in a 2012-2013 mission.

Wednesday's liftoff marks the fourth crewed flight in 17 months under NASA's public-private partnership with SpaceX, the rocket company founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car maker Tesla.

The latest mission also follows a flurry of recent high-profile astro-tourism flights, including the SpaceX launch in September of Inspiration 4, the first all-civilian crew sent to orbit without a professional astronaut on board.

Earlier this month, 90-year-old actor William Shatner, famed for playing Captain James T. Kirk on the original 1960s Star Trek TV series, made headlines riding aboard a rocketship launched by billionaire Jeff Bezos's company Blue Origin to become the oldest person to fly in space.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting