As it happened

Astronauts including France's Thomas Pesquet blast off for ISS aboard SpaceX capsule

This video grab image courtesy of NASA TV shows liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Crew-2 mission on April 23, 2021, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This video grab image courtesy of NASA TV shows liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Crew-2 mission on April 23, 2021, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. © AFP

A SpaceX mission blasted off for the International Space Station Friday morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with an international crew including astronauts from the United States, Japan and France. The first European to travel into space with SpaceX, Frenchman Thomas Pesquet will also become the first European to command the ISS, orbiting 400km above the Earth's surface, during part of the six-month mission.

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  • Originally slated for Thursday, lift-off was postponed to Friday due to unfavourable weather conditions on the Atlantic Coast. The launch took place at 5:49am local time (9:49 GMT, 11:49am in Paris).
  • An international team of four astronauts took their places inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on Friday morning, bound for a six-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS): Americans Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan's Akihiko Hoshide and, representing the European Space Agency, France's Thomas Pesquet. The Dragon is slated to dock at the ISS on Saturday after a journey of nearly 24 hours.
  • The French astronaut, who is making a return trip to the ISS after previous stays in 2016 and 2017, will become the first European commander of the ISS during a month-long portion of the mission.
  • The mission is the first to rely on a booster and capsule deployed previously, an initiative meant to keep costs down as NASA partners with private industry on human spaceflight.

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