A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts roared into outer space atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, marking the kick-off of SpaceX fifth crewed mission to orbit. The spacecraft goes with three NASA astronauts and one European astronaut onboard will spend all day Wednesday manoeuvring closer to the International Space Station (ISS), where it’ll dock late Thursday kicking off a six-month science and research mission.
The astronauts will spend the next day strapped inside their spacecraft as it manoeuvres through orbit and prepares to link up with the ISS, which orbits more than 200 miles above Earth’s surface. Docking is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET Thursday.
The four professional astronauts on the Crew-3 mission NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer, will be the first to board a Crew Dragon since SpaceX Inspiration4 all-civilian tourist mission. That mission carried four people, none of whom were professional astronauts, on a three-day space flight that orbited higher than any spacecraft has travelled since the moon missions of the 1970s.