KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – SpaceX and NASA successfully launched a crewed mission aboard a Dragon spacecraft early Saturday morning – the seventh commercial crew rotation for NASA.
The rocket lifted into the skies from Launch Complex 39A at Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 3:27 a.m. ET, according to NASA.
It's the first time astronauts from all of NASA’s international partners launched with SpaceX to the International Space Station, including astronauts from Europe, Japan and Russia. Previous commercial crew missions have included at least two NASA astronauts.
NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscomos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov were all on board the Dragon.
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The Crew-7 mission marks the seventh part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the eighth NASA astronaut launch overall for SpaceX since 2020. Elon Musk’s company also launched two crewed flights to the ISS for Axiom Space and another Earth-orbiting spaceflight for the Inspiration4 mission.
The astronauts completed a full dress rehearsal of the countdown overnight on Tuesday, and SpaceX ran a static fire test of the Falcon 9's Merlin engines on launchpad 39A later in the day.
After a launch readiness review on Wednesday, mission managers said the launch was "Go" for liftoff from KSC.
Ahead of the launch, the International Space Station made a debris avoidance maneuver on Thursday afternoon, according to NASA. The maneuver using ISS thrusters won't impact the Crew-7 launch or the arrival of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft set to arrive on Thursday.
An original planned launch for Friday morning was scrubbed. SpaceX did not elaborate on the issues that caused the Friday delay but said its teams needed more time to go over data and perform analysis.
About eight minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster returned to land at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) downrange from the KSC launchpad. SpaceX can land its boosters on a droneship at sea or at CCSFS. When the booster returns to Cape Canaveral, the re-entry creates a sonic boom as the booster breaks the sound barrier.
SpaceX issued a sonic boom warning to residents on Florida's Space Coast and throughout Central Florida, including Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Indian River, Seminole, Volusia, Polk, St. Lucis and Okeechobee counties. What residents hear and when they hear it depends on the weather and other factors. The sonic boom can take several minutes to reach areas including Orlando.