SpaceX and NASA launched a crew of astronauts who hail from all over the world on a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday. The mission, which includes some historic firsts, moved forward even as rising geopolitical tensions brew on the ground.
The four crew members — astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos — took off aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at 12 p.m. ET from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Here's what to expect next:
- A slow and steady trip: The Crew Dragon spacecraft is now in orbit, and is set to begin a slow, precise trek to the ISS, which orbits about 200 miles (322 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
- Thursday 4:57 p.m.: The spacecraft is aiming to dock with the space station on Thursday around 5 p.m. ET.
- Thursday 6:42 p.m.: The hatch will open ahead of the welcome cermony later in the evening.
- Thursday 8:15 p.m.: There are seven astronauts already on board the ISS. There will be a handover period, where the current ISS crew will help the newly arrived astronauts settle in before a separate Crew Dragon spacecraft brings the four astronauts who were part of SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission back home.
- Five months later: Crew-5 is slated to return from space in about five months.
While we wait for the spacecraft to dock, you can check out some photos from today's launch here.