SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts on their way to space station

SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at just after 3:50 a.m. ET (12:50 a.m. PT) on Wednesday, April 27.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, along with European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti, are now heading for the orbiting outpost. Docking is expected to take place Wednesday evening. The crew will live and work aboard the station, 250 miles above Earth, for the next six months.

As usual with SpaceX missions, the commercial space company livestreamed the early stages of the mission, including the rocket launch and booster landing in the first stage.

The launch lit up the night sky as SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket rocketed toward the sky:

Launch of Falcon 9 and Dragon! pic.twitter.com/sfKAOpBtU6

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

Minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Florida:

Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas pic.twitter.com/vaTkyWpCD5

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

About 13 minutes into the mission, SpaceX also livestreamed footage from the astronauts’ Crew Dragon spacecraft:

Crew-4 in orbit pic.twitter.com/pNlRTTdSYE

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

This is SpaceX’s fifth crewed flight since its first in the summer of 2020. The Crew-4 mission sees the maiden flight of this particular Dragon spacecraft and the fourth flight for Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously launched the CRS-22. , Crew-3 and Turksat 5B missions.

The ISS will be quite busy when the Crew-4 astronauts arrive later on Wednesday. While the station usually accommodates about six visitors at a time, the crew will expand to 11 with the arrival of Crew-4. Later this month, however, that number will be reduced to seven when the Crew-3 astronauts return to Earth after a six-month period in space.

For some insight into how astronauts live and work aboard the ISS, watch these videos taken over the years by visitors to the habitable satellite.

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