Estimated reading time 2 minutes 2 Min

SpaceX capsule heads to space station

A SpaceX launch vehicle, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule, has lifted off into clear skies from Cape Canaveral.

October 6, 2022
By Joe Skipper and Steve Gorman
6 October 2022

A SpaceX rocket has soared into orbit from Florida carrying the next long-term International Space Station crew, with a Russian cosmonaut, two Americans and a Japanese astronaut flying together in a demonstration of US-Russian teamwork in space despite Ukraine war tensions.

A high-ranking official of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said shortly after the launch on Wednesday that the flight marked “a new phase of our cooperation” with the US space agency NASA.

The SpaceX launch vehicle, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Endurance, lifted off into clear skies at midday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. 

The two-stage, Falcon 9 ascended from the launch tower as its nine Merlin engines roared to life in billowing clouds of vapor and a reddish-orange fireball.

The mission is notable for the inclusion of Anna Kikina, 38, the lone female cosmonaut on active duty with Roscosmos, making it the first spaceflight with a Russian launched from US soil in two decades. 

As the spacecraft entered Earth orbit, Kikina radioed her thanks to NASA, Roscosmos and their International Space Station (ISS) partners for “giving us this great opportunity.”

“We’re so glad to do it together,” Kikina said.

About nine minutes after Wednesday’s launch, the rocket’s upper stage delivered the Crew Dragon into a preliminary orbit as it streaked through space at nearly 27,000 km/h. The reusable lower-stage booster flew itself back to Earth and landed safely on a drone recovery vessel at sea.

The four crew members and their autonomously flying capsule were due to reach the ISS in about 29 hours, to begin a 150-day science mission aboard the orbital laboratory some 420 km above Earth.

The mission, designated Crew-5, marks the fifth full-fledged ISS crew NASA has flown aboard a SpaceX vehicle since the private rocket venture founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk began sending US astronauts aloft in May 2020.

More in Top Stories