Astronauts arrive at pad for SpaceX flight on used rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Four astronauts arrived at their launch pad early Friday morning for a SpaceX flight to the International Space Station, the corporate’s third bon voyage for a NASA crew in below a yr.

The two Americans, one French and one Japanese astronaut climbed into white gull-winged Teslas for the experience to their rocket, all courtesy of Elon Musk’s firms. Musk met with the astronauts earlier than they headed to the pad, wishing them properly from a secure social distance.

SpaceX aimed for a split-second liftoff at 5:49 a.m., an hour earlier than dawn. Good climate was forecast, not solely at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center however all the best way up the East Coast within the occasion of a launch abort and emergency splashdown. Poor offshore climate prompted SpaceX to skip Thursday’s try.

For the primary time, SpaceX was utilizing a recycled Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule for a crew launch. The capsule soared on the corporate’s first astronaut launch final May, and the rocket hoisted the second crew in November.

Spacecraft commander Shane Kimbrough and his crew will exchange that second set of astronauts, who will return to Earth subsequent Wednesday in their very own SpaceX capsule.

Joining Kimbrough for a six-month area station mission: NASA’s Megan McArthur, France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide. All have flown in area earlier than.

McArthur had the identical seat in the identical capsule as her husband, Bob Behnken, did for SpaceX’s debut crew flight. This time, he was the one huddling exterior the Teslas with their 7-year-old son, saying goodbye. McArthur blew kisses and provided digital hugs from a secure social distance.

The different astronauts’ spouses and youngsters additionally gathered alongside the Teslas for photographs and “love you’s,” as Musk and NASA’s performing administrator, Steve Jurzcyk, watched from afar. The crowd was stored to a minimal due to the pandemic.

SpaceX picked up the station slack for NASA after the company’s shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX started provide runs the next yr.

Boeing, NASA’s different designated taxi service, isn’t count on to launch astronauts till early subsequent yr.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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