SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, designed to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, fired into orbit on top of a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The 215-foot-tall (65-meter) Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST (0749 GMT) Saturday from pad 39A at the Florida spaceport. Nine kerosene-fueled Merlin main engines guided the Falcon 9 launcher toward the northeast, aligning the rocket with the space station’s orbital track as it climbed into a clear predawn sky.
The Crew Dragon capsule separated from the Falcon 9’s upper stage around 11 minutes after liftoff, kicking off a 27-hour pursuit of the space station that culminated in an automated docking early Sunday. Meanwhile, the Falcon 9’s first stage booster came back to Earth, using its engines to slow for a touchdown on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, ready for inspections and refurbishment before another mission.
Saturday’s launch marked the 69th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket since June 2010, and the third Falcon 9 launch of 2019.
Follow the Crew Dragon’s demonstration flight in our Mission Status Center.
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