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The Falcon 9 rocket takes flight. Photo: NASA TV/SpaceX

Four astronauts took off for the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX capsule Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The launch marks yet another successful SpaceX-crewed flight to orbit and one that will help staff the space station for NASA.

Driving the news: The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the four new crew members took flight at 9:03p.m. ET on Wednesday.

  • The Dragon capsule is carrying NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron alongside European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.
  • The crew is expected to dock with the space station on Thursday at about 7:10p.m. ET.
  • SpaceX successfully returned a different crew of astronauts to Earth from the space station earlier this week.

The big picture: Boeing is also planning to start flying people to the International Space Station under a contract with NASA at some point in the not-too-distant future.

  • The company is expected to launch a repeat of an uncrewed test of its Starliner capsule in the first half of 2022, with a crewed test expected to fly sometime after that.

Go deeper

Nov 23, 2021 - Science

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to send Michael Strahan to space

“Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan at the 90th Academy Awards in March 2018. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin announced Tuesday it will send former NFL player and “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan to space along with another honorary guest and four paying customers during an upcoming flight.

Why it matters: The mission, set for Dec. 9, will add the list of celebrities Blue Origin has flown into suborbital space in high-profile launches, coming just weeks after the company carried actor William Shatner and three other astronauts during its second human mission.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Nov 24, 2021 - Science

NASA probe launches on mission to redirect an asteroid

Photo: NASA

A NASA spacecraft called DART has launched on a journey to change the orbit of an asteroid in deep space.

Why it matters: The mission is designed to test technology that could one day be used to change the course of a dangerous asteroid if one is ever found on a collision course with Earth.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.