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SpaceX efficiently launches 4 astronauts into orbit for the ISS rendezvous

The first stage of the Falcon also made a second successful drone ship landing.

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April
23, 2021

2 min read

This story originally appeared on Engadget

SpaceX successfully put four astronauts into orbit en route to the International Space Station (ISS) and captured the landing using the Falcon 9's first stage booster. The Crew 2 mission also achieved some new goals. It is the first to use both a recycled Falcon 9 First Stage Booster and a flight-proven Dragon capsule. It is also SpaceX's first mission (and the first for NASA in 20 years) to use an international crew from three space agencies.

The takeoff lit the night sky on a relatively calm and clear early morning at Cape Canaveral Florida. The separation of the first and second stages, the onset of orbit, and the landing of the stage 1 on the distant "Of course I still love you" ship all seemed nominally. "I'm glad to be back in space for all of us," said Shane Kimbrough, NASA chief astronaut.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 was previously used to conduct the first operational SpaceX mission with four Crew 1 members on board. The Crew-2 Dragon Capsule is the same one that NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley used to fly to SpaceX's first manned mission, Demo-2, to the ISS.

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The four Crew 2 astronauts are Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA and Thomas Pesquet from ESA. All are space veterans, although it will be McArthur's first trip to the ISS (she previously flew a shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope). However, she will be sitting in the same seat her husband Behnken flew in for Demo-2.

They will relieve the four Crew 1 members who are expected to return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew 1 kite capsule in late April 2021. Autonomous docking is scheduled for tomorrow morning around 5:10 a.m. EDT.

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