4 astronauts on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission arrive at space station for 6-month stay


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts docked to the International Space Station Thursday night, less than 24 hours after the mission launched from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission successfully launched from Florida’s coast at 9:03 p.m. EST Wednesday. The Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft carried NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, along with European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, as they were launched into orbit by a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

The journey to the space station was supposed to take about 22 hours but NASA provided an update Thursday saying the mission was ahead of schedule. The spacecraft successfully docked to the space station at 6:33 p.m. EST, approximately 40 minutes earlier than the originally-scheduled 7:10 p.m.

“We know the crew is excited to get on station and settle into their long duration mission,” NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich said Wednesday night after the launch. “The NASA and SpaceX team remains vigilant in support of their safe arrival and eventual return to Earth.”

The four Crew-3 astronauts will stay on the International Space Station for six months conducting scientific research. They will be welcomed to the space station Thursday night by the three members of Expedition 66.

The four Crew-2 astronauts were originally supposed to be on board as well to welcome the newcomers, but NASA and SpaceX had to bring them home before Crew-3 launched. Crew-3 was originally scheduled to launch on Halloween but poor weather conditions pushed the launch back, and then a “minor medical issue” with one of the astronauts forced another delay late in the week. After another round of unfavorable weather caused a third delay, NASA and SpaceX pivoted the focus to bringing Crew-2 home to Earth before launching Crew-3. The four astronauts from the Crew-2 mission splashed down off the coast of Florida Monday night.

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