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NASA, SpaceX Send Four Astronauts to International Space Station


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Four astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station on the U.S. space agency NASA’s first crew rotation mission using a commercial spacecraft.

The three U.S., and one Japanese, crew members arrived after a journey of 27.5 hours on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Their mission is due to last about six months.

They joined two Russians and one American who flew to the International Space Station last month from Kazakhstan. The arriving crew was greeted by applause and hugs.

“It was an amazing ride,” Commander Mike Hopkins said during a welcome ceremony. “We are so excited to be here. We are humbled and we are excited to be a part of this great expedition.”

The president of Japan’s JAXA space agency, Dr. Yamakawa Hiroshi, said the mission has “inspired courage and delight of all Japanese citizens.”

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi said the four new crew members are “very humbled and happy” to be aboard the International Space Station and “ready to work.”

During their time at the space station, the crew members will conduct a range of scientific experiments, including growing radishes and using microgravity to test leukemia drugs. They also brought a new, redesigned toilet that NASA says will help prepare for future missions to the Moon and Mars.