Space X successfully launches three American astronauts and Russian cosmonaut into orbit after concerns over crack in side hatch nearly scrub lift-off

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • The SpaceX rocket successfully launched three American astronauts and Russian cosmonaut into orbit
  • A crack in the side hatch of the rocket nearly stalled the lift-off 
  • The Falcon rocket was heading to the International Space Station where the crew will live for six months

A  SpaceX rocket successfully launched three American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut into orbit after concerns about a crack in a side hatch nearly scrubbed the lift-off.

Prior to the rocket launching, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission found a problem with a crack in the side hatch. However, crews decided to proceed with the launch and said the issue was ‘too small’ to cause concern. 

At 10:53pm Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon Mission rocket carrying the crew bound for the International Space Station successfully took off from Florida.

‘For the past 12 years, Dragon missions have carried 1,000+ research experiments to orbit, enabling researchers the opportunity to fly critical science to orbit,’ SpaceX announced. 

The SpaceX Falcon rocket is seen during lift off as it heads toward the International Space Station from Launch Pad 39-A on Sunday at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Space X's Falcon rocket blasted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying NASA´s Matthew Dominick (right-center), Michael Barratt (left-center), Jeanette Epps (right) and Russia´s Alexander Grebenkin (left)

Space X’s Falcon rocket blasted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying NASA´s Matthew Dominick (right-center), Michael Barratt (left-center), Jeanette Epps (right) and Russia´s Alexander Grebenkin (left)

The Falcon, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, blasted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying NASA´s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps and Russia´s Alexander Grebenkin.

The Crew 8 team reached orbit nine minutes after lift-off.  

The astronauts should reach the orbiting lab on Tuesday. They will replace a crew from the U.S., Denmark, Japan and Russia, who have been there since August.

They are expected to live at the International Space Station for six months. They will perform about 250 experiments while in the microgravity environment while at the station. 

‘What an incredible ride to orbit,’ Dominick, 42, the flight commander and one of three spaceflight rookies aboard the capsule, radioed to control outside of Los Angeles. ‘A big thank-you to SpaceX.’

Boeing´s new Starliner capsule with test pilots is due to arrive at the ISS in late April. A month or two later, Sierra Space´s Dream Chaser, a mini shuttle, is expected to arrive and is set to deliver cargo to the station, but not passengers yet. 

Epps was originally assigned to fly Boeing´s Starliner, but NASA switched her to SpaceX after the Starliner got bogged down with problems and stalled.

She is the second black woman assigned to a long station mission. She said before the flight that she is especially proud to be a role model for black girls, demonstrating that spaceflight ‘is an option for them’ and ‘not just for other people.’

Epps is the second black woman assigned to a long station mission. Before take off she said that she was especially proud to be a role model for black girls, demonstrating that spaceflight 'is an option for them' and 'not just for other people'

Epps is the second black woman assigned to a long station mission. Before take off she said that she was especially proud to be a role model for black girls, demonstrating that spaceflight ‘is an option for them’ and ‘not just for other people’

The astronauts should reach the orbiting lab on Tuesday. They will replace a crew from the U.S., Denmark, Japan and Russia, who have been there since August

The astronauts should reach the orbiting lab on Tuesday. They will replace a crew from the U.S., Denmark, Japan and Russia, who have been there since August

At 10:53pm Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon Mission rocket carrying the crew bound for the International Space Station successfully took off from Florida

At 10:53pm Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon Mission rocket carrying the crew bound for the International Space Station successfully took off from Florida

The Crew 8 team reached orbit nine minutes after lift-off on Sunday night

 The Crew 8 team reached orbit nine minutes after lift-off on Sunday night

They are expected to live at the International Space Station for six months. They will perform about 250 experiments while in the microgravity environment while at the station

They are expected to live at the International Space Station for six months. They will perform about 250 experiments while in the microgravity environment while at the station

'What an incredible ride to orbit,' Dominick, 42, the flight commander and one of three spaceflight rookies aboard the capsule, radioed to control outside of Los Angeles. 'A big thank-you to SpaceX.'

‘What an incredible ride to orbit,’ Dominick, 42, the flight commander and one of three spaceflight rookies aboard the capsule, radioed to control outside of Los Angeles. ‘A big thank-you to SpaceX.’

She worked for Ford Motor Co. and the CIA as an engineer before becoming an astronaut in 2009.

Epps should have launched to the space station on a Russian rocket in 2018, but was replaced for reasons never publicly disclosed.

Dominick, a Navy pilot, and Grebenkin, a former Russian military officer, are also both new to space. 

Barratt, a doctor on his third mission, is the oldest full-time astronaut to fly in space. He turns 65 in April.

‘As long as we stay healthy and fit and engaged, we´re good to fly,’ Barratt said.

Flight controllers are monitoring a growing cabin leak on Russia’s side of the space station. 

The leak has doubled in size in the past few weeks and the area has been sealed off, NASA program manager Joel Montalbano said. He stressed there is no impact to station operations or crew safety. 

The International Space Station, about the length of a football field and the largest human-made object in space, has been continuously operated by a U.S.-Russian-led consortium that includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

The first hardware for the outpost was launched 25 years ago. It was conceived in part as a multinational venture designed to improve relations between Washington and Moscow following the Soviet Union’s collapse and the end of Cold War rivalries that gave rise to the original U.S.-Soviet space race in the 1950s and 1960s.

NASA has said it is committed to keeping the space station in operation for at least six more years.

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