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The rocket launches from Florida. Photo: NASA TV

Four astronauts took flight to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon early Friday morning.

The big picture: This marks the third time SpaceX has launched people to space for NASA, helping the space agency end its reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft and rocket for trips to the space station.

The state of play: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and the European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:49 a.m. ET Friday.

  • The four crewmembers are now flying through space on their way to catch up to and dock with the station.
  • They are expected to dock at 5:10 a.m. ET Saturday, with the hatch opening a couple hours later.
  • You can watch a live broadcast of their trip through space via NASA TV, which is expected to air continuous coverage through docking.

What's next: Once the astronauts arrive on the space station, they will join seven other astronauts and cosmonauts already onboard.

  • Four of the crewmembers are due to fly back to Earth next week.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 22, 2021 - Science

SpaceX set to launch new crew of astronauts for NASA Friday

The Falcon 9 rocket stands on its pad ahead of launch. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX is slated to send four new crewmembers to the International Space Station on Friday.

Why it matters: This will mark the third crewed flight for the company, which has big plans to one day launch people to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.