SpaceX astronaut launch: 5 things you need to know

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Four astronauts headed to the International Space Station after Sunday’s historic launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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According to The Associated Press, the astronauts traveled in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and arrived at the International Space Station late Monday.

The launch marks “the first full-fledge taxi flight for NASA by a private company,” the AP reported.

Here’s what you need to know about the launch and mission:

1. Who was on board?

Four astronauts – including three from the U.S. and one from Japan – were on board the Crew Dragon Resilience: the mission’s commander, Air Force Col. Mike Hopkins; physicist Shannon Walker; Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover; and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Learn more about them in the clips below:

2. When did they reach the International Space Station?

The astronauts arrived at the International Space Station late Monday following a 27-hour journey, according to the Washington Post and the AP. There, they joined NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and two Russian astronauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, for a six-month stay, the Post reported.

3. Elon Musk said he has a ‘likely’ case of COVID-19.

Because NASA requires people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate, the SpaceX founder and CEO had “to monitor the action from afar,” according to the AP. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who took Musk’s place at Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, said the tech magnate was “tied in very closely” to the latest developments, the news agency reported.

Musk, who has criticized coronavirus lockdowns and downplayed the virus' risks for several months, claimed late Thursday that he received two negative and two positive results after taking four rapid COVID-19 tests in one day, according to the Wall Street Journal. In another tweet on Saturday, he added that he “most likely” has “a moderate case.”

4. Vice President Mike Pence watched the launch in person.

The vice president and second lady Karen Pence watched the launch with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to the AP and WFTV.

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden took to social media to comment on the launch.

5. The launch comes months after a test flight in May.

According to the New York Times, that’s when NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley traveled to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX capsule called the Endeavour. They returned in early August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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