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NASA and SpaceX plan to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 rocket including two international crew members for the first time.

The second crew mission of the commercial spacecraft will leave Earth no earlier than April 20 from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX is due to launch four NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, and the event will be livestreamed. The mission, known as Crew-2, could launch as early as 6:11 a. NASA firefighters drive on the road outside the fence near a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on the launch pad at at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Nov. President-elect Joe Biden tweeted out his congratulations to the team on their successful launch.

  1. Four astronauts blasted off to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral early Friday, marking NASA’s first-ever launch with a slightly used SpaceX rocket and capsule. After a one-day.
  2. NASA and SpaceX plan to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 rocket including two international crew members for the first time. The second crew mission of the.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship will take NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, acting as spacecraft commander, and Megan McArthur, pilot, to the ISS.

They will be joined by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

This will be only the second time astronauts have launched from a commercial spacecraft and flown in a non-government backed spaceship to the ISS.

It will also mark only the second time since the space shuttle last flew in July 2011 that astronauts have launched for the ISS from US soil.

© Provided by Daily Mail Members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission - ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet (left), NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough (centre), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshid (right) - in training

Launching at some point from April 20 and no later than early May, the spaceship will lift off from the Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Launch to iss today

The crew are scheduled for a long-duration stay on the orbiting lab where they will live and work as part of a seven-member crew.

Video: Time-lapse of a starry night filmed at 2800 meters (BuzzVideos)

Time-lapse of a starry night filmed at 2800 meters

They will overlap with some of the first astronauts sent up to the ISS on the first Crew Dragon spaceship in November 2020.

© Provided by Daily Mail The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is seen here as it approaches the International Space Station for a docking on November 17, 2020. The second Crew Dragon is due to leave in April


NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.

They are expected to return to Earth in the autumn of 2021

Crew-1 astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker from NASA, as well as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to return early May on the Crew-2 ship - with the second crew returning later in 2021.

NASA is also working with SpaceX for its third crew launch mission in the autumn.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program has worked with several American aerospace industry companies to develop US human spaceflight systems since 2010.

The agency says the goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations in the future.

NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX in September 2014 to transport crew to the International Space Station from US soil.

Spacex Iss Launch

These integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems will carry up to four astronauts on NASA missions, maintaining a space station crew of seven to maximise time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory.

So far only SpaceX has managed to launch crew to the ISS, although Boeing is containing to test its Starliner crew capsule.

The next test is due to happen on March 25 - an uncrewed flight that is a critical developmental milestone in Boeing's bid to fly astronauts in space.

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It will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and if successful, dock with the International Space Station before returning to Earth.

Read more© Joel Kowsky/NASA A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission is the first crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi launched at 7:27 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center to begin a six month mission onboard the orbital outpost. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

A SpaceX spacecraft carrying four astronauts soared into outer space Sunday — marking the kick off of what NASA hopes will be years of the company helping to keep the International Space Station fully staffed.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with Japan's space agency, are now in orbit, riding aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that is expected to dock with the ISS on Monday at 11 pm ET. That means the crew will spend 27 hours in orbit as the spacecraft slowly maneuvers toward its destination.

The trip would have been shorter if the Crew Dragon were able to launch on Saturday, as NASA first planned, because the ISS would have lined up in such away as to allow the spacecraft to reach the space station in about eight hours. But bad weather brought by Hurricane Eta forced launch officials to delay takeoff to Sunday evening.

The capsule has a working restroom, and the astronauts will have time to get some sleep as the fully autonomous vehicle maneuvers through orbit while SpaceX and NASA officials in Houston, Texas, and Hawthorne, California, watch over the journey.

This is a landmark mission for NASA and the company because it is the first fully operational crewed mission for SpaceX, following up a test mission in May that carried NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, both test pilots, to the space station.

Video: 'A lot of firsts on this flight': NASA and SpaceX shoot for history (CNN Money)

'A lot of firsts on this flight': NASA and SpaceX shoot for history

But this mission is not a test: SpaceX's Crew Dragon was officially certified as a spacecraft worthy of carrying people last week, paving the way for it to begin making the trip relatively routine, carrying astronauts from a variety of backgrounds.

On this mission, for example, both Walker and Noguchi have backgrounds in physics. The Crew-1 team is slated to conduct all sorts of experiments during their six-month stay on the ISS, including research into how microgravity affects human heart tissue. They'll also attempt to grow radishes in space to build on studies designed to figure out how food might be grown to sustain deep-space exploration missions.

Sunday's mission had been briefly thrown into question after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that he was experiencing symptoms and was being tested for Covid-19, prompting NASA to carry out a contact tracing effort to ensure no essential personnel for the launch might have been exposed.

Officials said that effort was completed by Friday night, and they had no cause for concern. Musk said on Saturday that he 'most likely' had a 'moderate case of covid.'


The United States spent nearly a decade without the ability to launch astronauts into space after the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, and NASA was forced to rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get astronauts to the ISS, which the space agency says left the multibillion-dollar orbiting laboratory understaffed. As many as 13 astronauts were on board at one time in 2009. That number has occasionally dropped to as low as three on several occasions, which leaves fewer people to help run experiments and help keep the space station well maintained. With this launch, it will grow to seven.

SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon capsule under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which, for the first time in the space agency's history, handed over much of the design, development and testing of new human-rated spacecraft to the private sector. NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing fixed-price contracts worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to get the job done. Development of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is still delayed because of major software issues detected during a test mission last year, but officials say that vehicle could be in operation next year.

Spacex Launch Iss Arrival

Because these vehicles will technically be owned by SpaceX and Boeing, with NASA serving as a customer that buys missions for astronauts, the companies will also be able to use their vehicles to fly tourists, private researchers or anyone else who can afford a $50 million-plus ticket.

Spacex Iss Launch Schedule

That decision wasn't without controversy, particularly in the Commercial Crew Program's early days. But Crew Dragon's success could be seen as a huge win for folks at NASA who hope to rely more extensively on that contracting style to help accomplish the space agency's goals.

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