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SpaceX launches Crew-2 into orbit in recycled rocket and capsule

On Friday, Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX launched Crew-2 in a recycled rocket and capsule into orbit.

The four astronauts from America, France and Japan (commander Shane Kimbrough and his crew: Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet)  will now stay for six months at the orbiting lab, after riding up into the depths of space for 23 hours.

This recent crew-flight launch marks the third in less than a year for SpaceX, and the second time the company has launched a capsule and rocket for NASA.

spacex crew 2
Image: Spaceflight now

In a picture posted on Twitter, SpaceX noted that this is the first time two Crew Dragons – a reusable spacecraft designed by SpaceX – are attached to the International Space Station.

With Crew-2 arriving at the orbiting outpost 420 kilometres above the Indian Ocean on Saturday, there are now officially 11 people in NASA’s orbiting lab – the largest number of people on the International Space Station in a decade.

Videos from NASA on Saturday showed the second crew safely arriving at the station where the first crew greeted them, sharing big smiles and hugs in an endearing moment caught on film for the world to see.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the second crew also engraved each of their initials in the rocket’s soot weeks ago with hopes of starting a tradition.

While this recent launch wasn’t SpaceX’s first rodeo, this launch marks the first time SpaceX has reused a capsule and launch rocket for astronauts, having proved their capability of recycling aerospace material through years of supply runs to the space station.

“Glad to be back in space,” Kimbrough radioed once the capsule was safely in orbit.

Megan McArthur launched in the same seat in the same capsule as her husband, Bob Behnken, did during SpaceX’s first crew flight. However, this time Behnken and their 7-year-old son waved goodbye to McArthur, who blew kisses and gave virtual hugs.

“Man, it is awesome to see the 11 of you on station,” NASA’s acting administrator, Steve Jurczyk said.
Jurczyk also noted that collaborative efforts between Nasa and SpaceX will be the norm, now that SpaceX is regularly flying crews.
The newcomers will spend replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule this Wednesday to end their half-year mission. NASA deliberately planned for a brief overlap so the outgoing SpaceX crew could induct the new arrivals.