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Four astronauts took off to the space station with SpaceX

Four astronauts took off to the space station with SpaceX

Three American and German astronauts soared into the sky Wednesday night on a six-month mission to the International Space Station, a flight that was delayed several times originally scheduled for ten days.

They are expected to replace the crew that just left the International Space Station, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, and returned to Earth Monday night to Tuesday.

It was launched from Florida by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday night at 9:03 p.m. local time (2:03 p.m. GMT, Thursday). Your Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock at the station on Thursday at 7:10 PM (00:10 GMT on Friday).

Its takeoff was greeted with thunderous applause from the SpaceX control room.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, have been quarantined for several days at the Kennedy Space Center.

The departure was initially scheduled for late October, but the liftoff was delayed several times, often due to weather and then a “minor health issue” with one of the astronauts – NASA did not provide further details.

Therefore, the space agency decided to return the Crew-2 crew, including Thomas Pesquet, to Earth before the Crew-3 launch. Thus, the delivery period between the crew, which usually occurs in zero gravity for a few days, did not take place.

The mission is called Crew-3, because it is the third operational operation to the International Space Station that SpaceX is providing on behalf of NASA.

But this is actually the fifth time Elon Musk has launched humans into orbit: Prior to the Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions, the Demo-2 test mission sent two astronauts to the International Space Station. And in September, SpaceX also launched four tourists for three days in space, independently of NASA.

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The Crew-3 crew boarded a brand-new Dragon capsule on Wednesday, the example of which has been dubbed “Stamina.”

For American Tom Marshburn, this will be his third time in space. In fact, the space shuttle flew in 2009, and then the Soyuz rocket in 2012-2013.

However, the other three astronauts will make the first flight.

Matthias Maurer will be the 12th German to enter orbit.

They will be received by American Mark Vandy, who stayed there and celebrated his birthday on Wednesday alone in the American part of the network. Also on board are two Russian cosmonauts.

The task will involve many experiences. One is to monitor the effects of diet on the intestinal flora and immune system of astronauts, whose defenses are often weakened by prolonged stays in space. So they will have the opportunity to consume a variety of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables (zucchini, kale…) in addition to the barramundi.

Crew 3 astronauts will also conduct spacewalks, in particular to continue installing new solar panels on the International Space Station.

They will receive two tourist expeditions: the Japanese brought by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft at the end of the year, and in February 2022, the passengers on the Ax-1 mission, organized by Axiom Space in partnership with SpaceX.