Four astronauts from four different countries blasted off to the International Space Station on Saturday.
The SpaceX capsule they are traveling in is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Sunday, replacing the four astronauts who have lived there since March.
In addition to the NASA astronaut, the rocket that blasted off before dawn from the Kennedy Space Center were also astronauts from Denmark, Japan and Russia, who raised gloved hands as it entered orbit.
“We are a unified team with a common mission,” NASA astronaut Yasmine Mokbeli said on the radio from space.
Moqbley, a US Navy pilot serving as commander, said the composition of her crew demonstrates “what we can do when we work together in harmony.” He will be accompanied on the six missions by Andreas Mogensen of Denmark from the European Space Agency (ESA); Japanese Satoshi Furukawa and Russian Konstantin Borisov.
“To explore space, we have to do it together,” Josef Ashbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, said minutes before takeoff. “Space is global, international cooperation is the key.”
The capsule’s first-stage rocket booster returned to Cape Canaveral several minutes after liftoff, adding to the joy of the thousands who flocked to the vicinity of the center for the early morning launch. Liftoff was delayed by a day due to review of additional data of the capsule’s life support system.
With this, SpaceX has already sent eight crews into orbit for NASA. Boeing was contracted at the same time, nearly a decade ago, but has yet to carry out manned flights, and its capsule is idle until 2024 due to parachute problems, among other things.