KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon spacecraft blasted off from Kennedy Space Center Sunday night sending an international crew of astronauts on their journey to the space station, marking the private company’s second astronaut mission for NASA.
The Falcon 9 rocket launched at 7:27 p.m. from Launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
In the hours leading up to launch, NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Japanese Space Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi had a busy day from donning their spacesuits to saying goodbye to their families.
In the image below Glover says goodbye to his four children and his wife. Soichi shared some laughs with his family, taking a selfie and striking a few poses.
To see more photos from the countdown and moments leading up to liftoff, click here.
After waving goodbye and sharing some final moments with their families, the astronauts got into two Teslas and began their journey to Launchpad 39A.
At the launch pad, the astronauts were helped into the spacecraft and there began one of the only issues of the day after a small leak was detected when the hatch closed. SpaceX teams re-opened the hatch and were able to find the issue. The hatch was sealed without issues. Launch milestones were proceeding ahead of schedule and the quick fix didn’t hold up the countdown.
Watch the second hatch closure below.
At 7:27 p.m. the liftoff happened long after sunset and the fireball of a rocket could be seen far and wide on Florida’s east coast. If you missed it watch the spectacular liftoff below.
NASA and SpaceX plan to reused the Falcon 9 rocket booster to launch another round of astronauts to the space station next year. After launch, the booster came down for landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Re-watch the landing below:
After liftoff, the Dragon seperated from the rocket’s second stage allowing the astronauts began their journey to the ISS.
It will take about 27 hours for the spacecraft to catch up to the space station. The Crew-1 astronauts are set to arrive at 11 p.m. Monday, spending the night in the Dragon spacecraft.
For a full recap of highlights from the launch, landing and more watch the video at the top of this story.