July 7, 2022

NASA and Elon Musk’s space rocket company SpaceX on late Wednesday launched a new crew consisting of four astronauts into the orbit.

According to reports, the crew on their way to the International Space Station consisted of a veteran spacewalker, two younger crewmates chosen for future lunar missions and a German materials scientist.

The SpaceX-built launch vehicle, blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida consisted of a Crew Dragon capsule and a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA reported the liftoff of the Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance by the crew, had cast doubt on launch prospects over intermittent rain and clouds over the Cape earlier in the day, however, the weather cleared by flight time.

The space agency also mentioned that the mission had been baffled by several weather delays since its original launch window on Oct. 31.

It had to postpone its launch earlier this month and was attributed to an astronaut’s unspecified medical issue.

The rocket’s upper stage within 10 minutes of liftoff, had delivered the crew capsule into orbit. Meanwhile, the rocket’s reusable lower stage flew itself back to Earth after having detached from the rest of the spacecraft. And it successfully touched down on a landing platform floating on a drone vessel in the Atlantic.

After following a nine-year hiatus at the end of the U.S. space shuttle program in 2011, the recent flight marks the third “operational” space station crew sent to orbit aboard a Dragon capsule. This happened since NASA and SpaceX collborated to resume space launches from the American soil last year.

The “Crew 3” members include –

• Two members of the space agency’s latest graduating class of astronauts – Raja Chari, 44, a U.S. Air Force combat jet and test pilot serving as mission commander, and Kayla Barron, 34, mission specialist, a U.S. Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer.
• Veteran astronaut Tom Marshburn, 61, the team’s designated pilot and second-in-command. He is a medical doctor and former NASA flight surgeon.
• Lastly, the crew has European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, 51, of Germany, who is a materials science engineer.