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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A SpaceX rocket soared into orbit from Florida on Wednesday to carry the next long-term crew of the International Space Station. Ukrainian war tensions.

The SpaceX rocket, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Crew Dragon capsule named Endurance, launched into clear skies at noon EDT (midnight Thursday Singapore time) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. I was.

A two-stage, 23-story Falcon 9 soared from its launch tower and its nine Merlin engines came to life in billowing clouds of steam and reddish-orange fireballs.

The mission is notable for including Anna Kikina, 38, the only female cosmonaut from the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Rivalry between Moscow and Washington deepens About the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The last astronaut to orbit on a US rocket ship was on NASA’s space shuttle in 2002.

As the spacecraft entered Earth orbit, Kikina thanked NASA, Roscosmos, and the International Space Station (ISS) partners for “giving us this wonderful opportunity. Together we will do it.” I am very happy to be able to do this,” she radioed.

Kikina, from West Siberia, essentially replaces a NASA astronaut who headed to the ISS on Russia’s Soyuz flight last month. A new rideshare deal signed by NASA and Roscosmos in July.

About nine minutes after launch on Wednesday, the rocket’s upper stage sent Crew Dragon into a suitable preliminary orbit through space at nearly 27,000 km/h. Meanwhile, the reusable lower-stage booster returned to Earth on its own and landed safely on a drone recovery ship floating at sea.

The crew of four and their autonomous capsule were scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) in about 29 hours on Thursday night to begin a 150-day science mission in an orbital laboratory some 400 kilometers above the ground. .

The mission, dubbed Crew-5, will send U.S. astronauts into the skies in May 2020 by a California-based private rocket venture founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It marks the fifth full-fledged ISS crew to fly aboard a SpaceX vehicle by NASA since its inception.

“Smooth ride”

This newest team is led by 45-year-old veteran combat pilot Nicole Aunapu Mann. She is making spaceflight history as both the first indigenous woman sent into orbit by NASA and the first woman to take the commander’s seat of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Mann radioed back because controllers wanted “godspeed” from the crew the moment they reached orbit.

Live video from inside the Crew Dragon showed all four astronauts strapped into a pressurized cabin in white and black spacesuits with helmets. SpaceX capsule carries NASA crew, Russian cosmonauts to space station

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