Following an early morning launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, the international team is bound for the International Space Station, marking the second commercial crew rotation mission on the microgravity lab.
“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk said following Thursday’s historic launch. “This is another important milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and our international partners at ESA and JAXA, and for the future of scientific research on board the space station. It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”
The milestone distinction for the second of six crewed missions from NASA and SpaceX is well-earned given that the Crew-2 endeavor marks the first commercial crew mission to ever include two international partners. This missions also marks the first commercial crew handover between astronauts on the space station, the first reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission, and the first time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked at the station simultaneously.
The history-making crew—now at the beginning of a six-month mission—is comprised of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
The aim of the six-month mission is for crew members to conduct science and maintenance, as well as deliver 250 pounds of various cargo ranging from new hardware to items needed for a microgravity study helmed by university students.
Below, catch an archived livestream of Thursday’s launch. Liftoff proceedings kick into high gear a little over four hours into the video: