A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew-2 mission astronauts, lifts off from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021.
GREGG NEWTON | AFP | Getty Images
SpaceX launched another group of astronauts for NASA early on Friday morning, with Elon Musk’s company now having sent 10 astronauts to space in under a year.
The Crew-2 mission, the company’s second operational mission for NASA and its third to date, reached orbit successfully after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:49 a.m. EDT. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried the four astronauts to space in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft named “Endeavour.”
The launch marked multiple new firsts for SpaceX, with the company reusing both a rocket and a capsule for the mission, as well as surpassing the total number of astronauts launched to space under the Mercury program that began in 1958.
“It was just spectacular,” acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk said after the Crew-2 mission launched. “Our partnership with SpaceX has been tremendous.”
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule — carrying NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet — is now on its way to the International Space Station. The mission is scheduled to dock with the ISS about 24 hours after launch, at around 5:10 a.m. EDT on Saturday. The Crew-2 team will then performed a full duration mission on the ISS, spending about six months onboard.
After the launch, SpaceX also landed the booster of its Falcon 9 rocket, which is the large, lower section of the rocket. This Falcon 9 rocket booster previously launched the Crew-1 mission in November, and SpaceX plans to continue using it to launch future missions.