Four astronauts blast off to International Space Station for six-month stay

Four astronauts have blasted off to the International Space Station for a six-month stint in orbit.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday, carrying NASA’s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Russia’s Alexander Grebenkin.

Footage showed the rocket’s nine Merlin engines roaring into life as it ascended from the launch tower.

Image: Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin and NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matthew Dominick and Jeanette Epps (L-R). Pic: Reuters
The astronauts should dock with the orbiting lab some 250 miles (420km) above Earth on Tuesday after a 16-hour flight.
The crew will carry out about 250 experiments in the orbital platform’s microgravity environment.

They will replace a crew from the US, Denmark, Japan and Russia, who have been there since August.

“When are you getting here already?” space station commander Andreas Mogensen asked via X after three days of delay due to high wind.
There was almost another postponement on Sunday night after a small crack in the seal of the SpaceX capsule’s hatch prompted a last-minute flurry of reviews, but it was deemed safe for the whole mission.
It is the eighth long-duration team NASA has flown aboard a SpaceX launch vehicle since the private rocket venture, founded in 2002 by billionaire Elon Musk, began sending US astronauts to orbit in May 2020.


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Image: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its way to the International Space Station. Pic: AP
The new crew’s stay includes the arrival of two other rocketships ordered by NASA.
Boeing’s new Starliner capsule with test pilots is due in late April.
Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, a mini-shuttle, should arrive a month or two later and will deliver cargo but not passengers to the station.

Source : Sky News