SpaceX launched four people to the International Space Station from Florida as Elon Musk’s company begins its 11th human spaceflight mission to date.
Known as Crew-7, the mission for NASA will bring the group up to the space station for a six-month stay in orbit. The mission is SpaceX’s sixth operational crew launch for NASA to date, and the first of the additional missions the agency awarded SpaceX.
Crew-7 launched in the early hours of Saturday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, beginning a nearly one day journey to the ISS.
The mission brings the number of astronauts SpaceX has launched to 42, including both government and private missions, since its first crewed launch in May 2020.
Crew-7 consists of NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli as the commander, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen from Denmark as the pilot, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov as mission specialists.
SpaceX launched the astronauts in its Crew Dragon capsule called Endurance, on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. Both the rocket and capsule are reusable, with the Endurance flying on its third mission to date.
The company is under contract for 14 missions under NASA’s Commercial Crew program.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and fine-tuned its Falcon 9 rocket under NASA’s program, competing against Boeing’s Starliner capsule. But Boeing’s capsule remains in development, with costly delays putting the start of operational Starliner flights years behind schedule.