Watch Moment SpaceX Rocket Successfully Launches NASA Astronauts to ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has launched four astronauts toward the International Space Station (ISS) for the Crew-2 mission in collaboration with NASA—and you can now watch footage of the spectacular lift-off.

The rocket took off at 5:49 a.m. EDT on Friday from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

As part of the Commercial Crew Program, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft to the ISS.

After launching, the Falcon 9 successfully delivered Endeavour into orbit above Earth, where the spacecraft separated from the rocket's second stage. Endeavour is now on its way to the ISS and is expected to autonomously dock with the space station at 5:10 a.m. EDT on Saturday April 24.

The Falcon 9's reusable first stage booster also landed on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous droneship, in what was SpaceX's 80th landing on an orbital class rocket booster.

NASA said in a statement that the Crew-2 mission was the "first launch through our Commercial Crew Program to fly two international partner astronauts, and the first reuse of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for a crew mission."

The first stage booster of the Falcon 9 used in the latest mission previously launched the Crew-1 mission in November 2020, which carried three NASA astronauts and one JAXA astronaut to the ISS. The booster returned to Earth and landed successfully on SpaceX's droneship called Just Read the Instructions.

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon! pic.twitter.com/g6Oi8qwU2Y

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 23, 2021

Meanwhile, the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft used in the Crew-2 mission previously flew NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to and from the International Space Station during SpaceX's Demo-2 mission in 2020.

The Demo-2 mission was the first crewed orbital spaceflight launched from the United States since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011.

The four astronauts who launched on Friday as part of the Crew-2 mission will stay on board the ISS for six months, departing no earlier than October 31. At some point from this date, they will return to Earth and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

"Once aboard the station, the Crew-2 astronauts will spend a lot of time on science—in areas such as medical technology, human health, and materials to benefit life on Earth," NASA said in a statement.

"The space station is a unique scientific platform, enabling researchers from all over the world to put their talents to work on innovative experiments. It has instruments that monitor our home planet's global climate, environmental changes, and natural hazards."

This article has been updated with additional information on the launch.

spacex nasa launch
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, pictured ahead of boarding the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the SpaceX Crew-2 mission at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 23, 2021, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images