SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon spacecraft into outer space on Wednesday, the first phase in a manned spaceflight mission to the International Space Station. It launched out of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Dragon will dock with the space station on Thursday at 4:57 p.m. ET and offload four NASA astronauts to work in an orbiting laboratory.
Falcon 9 landed successfully on the company’s “drone ship” in the Atlantic Ocean.
“During their time on the orbiting laboratory, the crew will conduct over 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations in areas such as human health and lunar fuel systems,” SpaceX reported in a press release.
NASA’s SpaceX crew for the current mission, Crew-5, is comprised of Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata, and Anna Kikina.
Crew-5 will be joining Crew-4 at the space station, which consists of astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins, and Bob Hines, according to a media release issued by NASA.
Crew-4 has been aboard the space station since April 27. During their mission, the crew contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations, including documenting how space diet improvements affect immune function, determining the effect of fuel temperature on flammability, and exploring possible adverse effects on astronaut hearing from equipment noise and microgravity.
Crew-4 is NASA’s fourth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX. Regular commercial crew rotations allow NASA to continue station research and technology investigations.
NASA reported that such research benefits Earthlings and lays the groundwork for future human exploration through NASA’s Artemis missions, which will send astronauts to the Moon to prepare for Mars expeditions.
Space exploration is not SpaceX’s only foray into the cosmos.
Last September, 54 Starlink satellites joined the current fleet of 3,000, with a launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX, following a previous launch delay due to weather, The Dallas Express reported.
Starlink aims to provide global internet access by serving areas that would not usually be able to connect to regular satellite services, such as rural Central Texas settlements.
The Dragon spacecraft will undock from the space station later this month, splashing down off the coast of Florida to conclude its mission.
According to SpaceX, Wednesday’s launch will be available to watch on Thursday, October 6, at 11:38 a.m. ET on the mission website.