1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

SpaceX launches with US-Russian crew for ISS mission

March 4, 2024

Three US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut have set off for the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew-8 is set to take part in a six-month mission in Earth's orbit.

The Crew 8 astronauts are displayed on the NASA countdown clock
The four-person crew will stay on the International Space Station for six monthsImage: Paul Hennessy/Anadolu/picture alliance

A SpaceX rocket carrying a crew of three US astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut took off from Florida on Sunday night. The crew is heading to the International Space Station (ISS) to begin a six-month mission in orbit.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with an autonomously-operated Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Endeavor was launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral at 10:53 p.m. (0353 UTC Monday).

It took about nine minutes for the capsule to settle into orbit as it prepared to dock with the ISS and relieve four other crew members.

A first attempt to launch the mission on Saturday was postponed due to high winds.

Despite tense relations otherwise, space remains a rare area of cooperation between the United States and Russia since Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. 

Who are the SpaceX crew?

The four crew members were launched in the Endeavour capsule, which has already been launched four times by billionaire Elon Musk's company SpaceX.

For three of them, this is their first time in space: mission commander Matthew Dominick, a 42-year-old former Navy test pilot, Jeanette Epps, a 53-year-old who previously worked for Ford Motor Co and the CIA, and Russian Alexander Grebenkin, 41, a former military aircraft engineer.

The mission's pilot is the most experienced of the crew: Michael Barratt, 64, who has already visited the ISS two previous times and taken part in two spacewalks.

They are expected to reach the orbiting lab on Tuesday. They will replace a crew of seven from the US, Denmark, Japan and Russia. 

Four of those members will return to Earth after an overlap of a few days.

The crew will carry out experiments such as using stem cells to create organoids (artificially grown masses of cells resembling organs) to study degenerative diseases. They will take advantage of the microgravity environment to enable three-dimensional cell growth, which is not possible on Earth.

The DW News WhatsApp channel is live! Join us now for unbiased news that matters. 

Private mission to the moon blasts off from Florida

tg/wd,ab (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)