Just two days after NASA and SpaceX welcomed four astronauts back to Earth, four more astronauts were launched into space via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday night. According to a news release from NASA, the rocket lifted off at 9:03 p.m. EST. The astronauts were expected to dock at the International Space Station at around 7:10 p.m. EST Thursday.
St. Louis resident Kenneth Johnson made the trip down to Cape Canaveral to witness the flight.
“It was just incredible, it’s so exhilarating when it first takes off and you see the orange glow and it goes up, it’s absolutely amazing,” Johnson said after the launch.
“This mission is the first spaceflight for astronauts Chari, Barron, and Maurer, and the third for Marshburn,” NASA said in the news release. “Marshburn is the sixth person to launch from Earth on three different spacecraft.”
Wednesday’s flight happened after NASA and SpaceX welcomed four other astronauts back from the ISS. They were launched to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Center back in April.
“With Raja, Thomas, Kayla and Mattias on their way to the International Space Station just days after Crew-2’s return, we’re seeing the power of American ingenuity right before our eyes,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “NASA’s partnership with SpaceX is not only critical for cutting-edge research, but also for international collaboration. The space station brings together nations around the world for the benefit of all.”
Wednesday’s SpaceX rocket launch also marked a historic milestone, as 600 people have now reached space in the last 60 years. According to NASA, Maurer claimed the No. 600 position based on his mission assignment.
“It’s just amazing how far things have come, from just a dream of even making it to space and walking on the Moon to now space tourism and you know, the fight it’s taken to make dreams a reality,” Dana Levine, a Florida resident who watched the launch, said Wednesday.