CAPE CANAVERAL – Elon Musk’s SpaceX has sent a fourth manned rocket into space in the pre-dawn hours of Friday; reusing the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. This is the first time a recycled rocket has been launched into orbit on a crew mission – bringing Musk’s dream of a reusable space program closer to reality.
The Falcon 9 rocket was launched precisely 2 seconds after 5:49 a.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center carrying four astronauts on board. It is due to autonomously dock on to the Internation Space station (ISS) within 24 hours.
In addition to being the first recycled rocket, it is also the first time that two SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules will be simultaneously docked at the ISS.
The spaceship carried two international partners; Japanese national Akihiko Hoshide of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the French national Thomas Pesquet of European Space Agency. The flight is manned by Americans Shane Kimbrough, the mission commander, and Megan McArthur, the spacecraft’s pilot.
The crew will be stationed at the space station for a six-month mission.