NASA and SpaceX set to launch four-member crew to ISS

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Commercial rocket company SpaceX and NASA were due to launch a new four-member team to the International Space Station on Friday. It would be the first propelled crew into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from used space flight.

The Endeavour, the company’s Crew Dragon capsule, was prepping for liftoff atop at 11.49 SA time from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The nearly 24-hour ride to the space station had been set to begin on Thursday. However, there was a delay to the launch for a day by the weather forecasts along the rocket’s flight path.

Meteorologists predicted around a 90% chance of favorable weather at the launch site on Friday. Improving conditions gave the flight path for the rescheduled launch window.

This mission represents the second operational space station team that NASA launched aboard a Dragon Crew capsule. It happened for the first time since the US resumed flying astronauts into space from US soil last year. It was after a nine-year hiatus at the end of the US space program in 2011.

This is also the third crewed flight that NASA launched into orbit under its fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX. Elon Musk founded and owned the rocket company. The first was a test mission carrying just two astronauts into orbit last May.

Some details about the mission

In the 4-member Crew 2 team, there are two NASA astronauts, 53-year-old mission commander Shane Kimbrough, and 49-year-old pilot Megan McArthur. The other two members are Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, age 52, and fellow mission specialist Thomas Pesquet, age 43, a French engineer from the European Space Agency.

McArthur talked at a news briefing after arriving at Kennedy Space Center last week. According to her, she is excited about the mission. She said that there’s nothing like looking out the window and seeing a spaceship getting prepared while realizing that you will be riding on it in a few days. She is the first female pilot of the Crew Dragon and the second person in her family in the capsule.

They will spend around six months aboard the orbiting research platform. They will be conducting science experiments and some maintenance before returning to Earth.

The space station sent the four members of Crew number 1 in November. They will fly back home on April 28.

The Crew number 2 mission also is unique in that it will fly using the same first-stage booster that lofted Crew 1 into orbit.

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