SpaceX sends four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday on the first full-fledged taxi flight for NASA by a private company.
The Falcon 9 rocket went thundered into the night from Kennedy Space Center carrying three Americans and one Japanese, the second crew launched by SpaceX. The Dragon capsule on top -- named Resilience by its team keeping this year's challenges, notably COVID-19 in view-- was expected to reach the space station late Monday and remain there until spring.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk monitored the action from afar. He shared his views on Twitter and said, "most likely" had a moderate case of COVID-19. NASA policy at Kennedy Space Center requires anyone testing positive for coronavirus to quarantine and remain isolated.
The second crew sent by the space center is expected to reach the International Space Station by 11 p.m. EST on Monday.
NASA's Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, "This is another historic moment." He noted: "Make no mistake: Vigilance is always required on every flight."