SpaceX launched a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from Florida’s Space Coast early Saturday, carrying a multinational crew from the United States, Denmark, Japan, and Russia on a flight to the International Space Station.
The four crew members strapped into their seats inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft overnight and then waited for a Falcon 9 rocket to shoot them into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. With a flash of orange light, the rocket’s nine kerosene-fueled Merlin engines ignited and propelled the Falcon 9 off the launch pad at 3:27 am EDT (07:27 UTC).
The rocket headed northeast from the Florida coast to arc over the Atlantic Ocean and line up with the flight path of the International Space Station. About two-and-a-half minutes into the launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage booster separated from the rocket’s upper stage to begin thrusting back toward Cape Canaveral. The return maneuver culminated in an on-target vertical landing a few miles south of the launch pad.