Elon Musk's SpaceX launches fresh crew to International Space Station


A crew of three Americans and one German blasted off Wednesday night from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the latest mission in billionaire Elon Musk's private-company race to space.

NASA's mission control erupted in cheers as what appeared to be an orange fireball raced up in the Florida sky.

The launch marked the fifth crewed space mission by Musk's SpaceX company in the last 18 months and the third mission done specifically for NASA, which is why the mission is dubbed "Crew-3".

"Godspeed and enjoy the ride," NASA told the crew as they waited for blast-off inside their capsule.

"We're honored" to make the trip, came the reply from the crew.

The capsule, part of SpaceX's "Crew Dragon" fleet of capsules, is called Endurance, and when it docks at the International Space Station on Thursday night, the crew will begin a six-month mission at the ISS.

The crew will conduct a number of experiments while on board the ISS, among them a unique one by the German astronaut, Matthias Maurer. He will do exercises like strength training and running while wearing a specialized suit that applies electrical impulses to his muscles. The goal is to help astronauts overcome the muscle atrophy and bone loss that typically happen in space.

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