TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – After nearly two weeks of delay, NASA and SpaceX successfully launched its Crew-3 mission from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday evening.
The four Crew-3 astronauts inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule lifted off the coast of Florida at 9:03 p.m. EST on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. Astronauts are now on their way to the Space Station international, where they will spend six months in orbit.
It will take around 22 hours for the Crew Dragon to get to the space station. The capsule should dock on Thursday at 7:10 p.m.
Crew-3 astronauts – Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron of NASA, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer – will then be greeted aboard the space station by the three members of Expedition 66 Crew-2’s four astronauts were originally supposed to be on board as well to welcome the new arrivals, but NASA and SpaceX had to bring them home before Crew-3 launched.
Crew-3 was originally slated to launch for Halloween. Bad weather conditions delayed the launch, then a “minor medical issue” with one of the astronauts forced another delay over the weekend.
After another round of adverse weather conditions caused a third delay, NASA and SpaceX focused on repatriating Crew-2 to Earth before launching Crew-3. The four astronauts of the Crew-2 mission descended off the coast of Florida on Monday evening.
While Crew-3 is launched by a used Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon capsule – named Endurance – is new.
“The crew came up with the name, which is ‘Endurance’, and it speaks to us on many levels,” said Chari. “First of all, just a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit as we push humans and machines further than ever.”
The launch will mark the 600th person to fly in space in the 60 years we have traveled. The Crew-3 mission includes three novice aviators.
“We couldn’t be more excited to join the space station crew on Expedition 66,” said Barron. “We have a lot of exciting things planned, from spacewalks and science experiments to visitors with private astronaut missions and participants in space flights. So it’s kind of a dream mission for a beginner pilot.