Miami, Nov 10 (EFE).- NASA and SpaceX’s third manned commercial mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was successfully launched Wednesday from Cape Canaveral with four astronauts on board after it had been postponed several times.
Crew-3 was launched at 21:03 EST Wednesday (02:03 GMT Thursday) from the Kennedy Space Center, on the east coast of Florida.
The four astronauts are traveling aboard a new Dragon spacecraft, the Endurance, propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket.
At 2 minutes and 40 seconds after takeoff, the Dragon capsule separated from the rocket and continued its journey, while Falcon 9 autonomously returned to an unmanned platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
After 10 minutes from takeoff, the four astronauts waved at the camera, accompanied by a plush turtle – “a zero-G indicator.” They then stretched their legs and adjusted to the control screens in front of them.
The team, which will relieve the SpaceX Crew-2 that returned Monday from the ISS, is made up of NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and Germany’s Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency.
Since Oct. 31, when takeoff was scheduled, the mission has been postponed several times due to adverse weather conditions and a minor medical problem that affected one of the astronauts.
The astronauts will arrive at the ISS about 22 hours after launch, and will stay for six months to take over from Crew-2, which during its mission conducted experiments as diverse as growing chili peppers and cotton to tracking microbes and studying tardigrades, or water bears.
Previous missions were Crew-1, which departed from Cape Canaveral in November last year, preceded by the historic Demo-2 test trip, which began on May 30, 2020 for around two months.
From the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis in 2011 until Demo-2, NASA used only Russian Soyuz spacecraft to put its astronauts into orbit.
Wednesday’s trip is the third by a manned spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which worked with the US aerospace industry to restart astronaut launches on US rockets and spacecraft from US soil. EFE