Videos Show SpaceX Crew-3 Launch in Fastest Spaceflight Turnaround Ever

SpaceX has carried out a manned rocket launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in what NASA has called the fastest crew turnaround in the history of spaceflight.

The launch on Wednesday night took NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, into Earth orbit and marked the start of the Crew-3 mission to the ISS.

It came just two days after the return of the Crew-2 mission on Monday this week, in which four astronauts came back to Earth following a half-year stint aboard the space lab.

The Crew-3 astronauts are due to dock with the ISS on Thursday evening, where they will replace the Crew-2 members.

SpaceX carried out both the Crew-2 and Crew-3 launches with their workhorse Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules, both of which are reusable.

The Crew-3 launch, which took place in Florida, was recorded and NASA has posted various clips to Twitter, including lift-off and footage of the crew inside the Dragon capsule experiencing weightlessness shortly afterward.

#Crew3... 2... 1... and liftoff!

Three @NASA_Astronauts and one @ESA astronaut are on their way to the @Space_Station aboard the @SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance:

— NASA (@NASA) November 11, 2021

We like turtles.

There are three aboard the #Crew3 Endurance capsule on the way to the @Space_Station: Two from the "Turtles" class of astronauts, Kayla Barron and @Astro_Raja, and the third... well, can you spot the zero G indicator?

— NASA (@NASA) November 11, 2021

The latter clip shows the crew playing with a floating turtle toy, which NASA referred to as the "zero G indicator."

The NASA-SpaceX partnership is part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Program, which aims to launch astronauts to space from U.S. soil using U.S. technology by working with private companies.

Until recently the U.S. had relied on Russia's Roscosmos space agency to send its astronauts to the ISS and return them home using Soyuz rockets and capsules.

"With Raja, Thomas, Kayla and Matthias 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," said NASA administrator Bill Nelson in a press release.

Steve Stich, manager with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said: "We know the crew is excited to get on station and settle into their long duration mission. The NASA and SpaceX team remains vigilant in support of their safe arrival and eventual return to Earth."

A rotating crew system, in which groups of astronauts spend several months at a time aboard the ISS before being replaced, allows NASA and other space agencies to maintain a presence on the orbiting outpost where scientific research into areas like materials science and health technologies can be tested. Such research lays the groundwork for future manned missions to the moon and Mars.

The ISS has been continuously occupied since the year 2000. It is uncertain when the station will be decommissioned amid reports that it's showing its age, but countries have committed to continue operating it at least through 2024.

Crew-3 launch
A photo showing the Crew-3 launch at the moment of lift-off on November 10 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The four astronauts on board are currently travelling to the ISS. Joe Raedle/Getty