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SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are on their way to the space station

SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at just after 3:50 a.m. ET (12:50 a.m. PT) on Wednesday, April 27.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, along with Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, are now on their way to the orbiting outpost with docking expected to take place on Wednesday evening. The crew will spend the next six months living and working aboard the station 250 miles above Earth.

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As usual with SpaceX missions, the commercial spaceflight company livestreamed the early stages of the mission, including the rocket launch and the landing of the first-stage booster.

The launch lit up the night sky as SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket blasted skyward:

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon!

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

Minutes after launch, the rocket’s first-stage booster made a successful landing on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Florida:

Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

Around 13 minutes into the mission, SpaceX also livestreamed footage from inside the astronauts’ Crew Dragon spacecraft:

Crew-4 on orbit

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 27, 2022

This is SpaceX’s fifth crewed flight since the first one in the summer of 2020. The Crew-4 mission sees the first flight of this particular Dragon spacecraft and the fourth flight for Falcon 9’s first-stage booster, which previously launched the CRS-22, Crew-3, and Turksat 5B missions.

The ISS will be pretty crowded when the Crew-4 astronauts arrive later on Wednesday. While the station usually hosts around six visitors at a time, the crew will expand to 11 with the arrival of Crew-4. However, later this month, that number will reduce to seven as the Crew-3 astronauts return to Earth after a six-month stint in space.

For some insight into how astronauts live and work aboard the ISS, check out these videos made by visitors to the habitable satellite over the years.

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