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The NASA and SpaceX crew of four take off for the International Space Station

The NASA and SpaceX crew of four take off for the International Space Station

NASA pays SpaceX for taxi service as part of a commercial crew program.

United States:

NASA and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft launched Saturday, carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station.

Commanded by American Jasmin Moghbeli, the Crew 7 mission consists of Denmark’s Andreas Mogensen, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and Russia’s Konstantin Borisov.

The Falcon 9 rocket-borne Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 3:27 a.m. (0727 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in front of around 10,000 people who had gathered to watch the launch.

“We’ve got launch!” That’s what NASA said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Cheers were heard in Mission Control shortly after the Dragon spacecraft with its crew in orbit separated from the Falcon 9 rocket.

“We may have four crew members from four different nations on board … but we are a united team with a common mission,” Moghbeli said after the split.

The launch was pushed back to Saturday to give engineers an extra day to review a component of the Crew Dragon capsule’s environmental control and life support system, NASA said in a blog post.

It is the first space mission for Moghbeli and Borisov.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember,” Moghbeli, a Navy test pilot, said during a media briefing last month.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is looking back at our beautiful planet,” added the 40-year-old American.

“Everyone I’ve talked to who has flown has said it was a life-changing perspective — and floating around in space seems really fun, too.”

Crew-7 is set to be the seventh routine mission to Elon Musk’s SpaceX orbital platform, with the first scheduled for 2020.

NASA is paying SpaceX for taxi service as part of a commercial crew program it instituted to reduce reliance on Russian rockets for astronaut transport after the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

Boeing is the other private contractor, but its program continues to experience delays and technical difficulties. It has not yet flown a crew.

Borisov will become the third Russian to fly a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule mounted on a Falcon 9 rocket.

Space remains a rare area of ​​cooperation between the United States and Russia, despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and Americans continue to fly aboard Russian Soyuz rockets launched from Kazakhstan.

The crew will spend six months aboard the ISS conducting science experiments and collecting samples during a spacewalk to determine if the station is releasing microorganisms through the vents of its life support system.

The aim is to understand whether microorganisms can survive and multiply in space.

Another experiment aims to examine the physiological differences between sleep on Earth and in space.

“I look forward to mastering all the tasks. It’s a very interesting profession: you’re preparing for something you haven’t tried before, and you want to do it really well,” Borisov said.

Crew-7 will join the seven people already aboard the ISS before members of Crew-6 depart for Earth a few days later.

The first section of the ISS was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by an international crew since 2001.

It is scheduled to operate until at least 2030, after which it will be decommissioned and plunged into the sea. Several private companies are working on commercial space stations to replace them.

(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)

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