Live Updates: SpaceX to launch astronauts with NASA

SpaceX and NASA will launch a crew of astronauts from around the world on a journey to the International Space Station. The mission, which will include some historic firsts, is going ahead even as geopolitical tensions on the ground are rising.

The four crew members — astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos — are on track to launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Dubbed Crew-5, the mission is the sixth mission launched by NASA and private aerospace company SpaceX to the space station. The partnership is to transition the task of getting people to and from the ISS after NASA retired the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

The upcoming space flight marks a historic moment, as Mann will not become the first American woman to travel to space. She will also serve as mission commander, becoming the first woman to assume such a role for a SpaceX mission.

What’s more, Kikina will be the first Russian to board a SpaceX mission as part of the ride-sharing agreement signed by NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos in July. Its participation in the flight is the latest clear sign that, despite rising tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the decades-old US-Russian partnership in space will endure, at least for now.

What happens next: After Wednesday’s scheduled launch, the Crew Dragon spacecraft will separate from the SpaceX rocket that propels it into orbit and begin its slow, precise journey to the ISS, which orbits about 200 miles (322 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the space station on Thursday around 5:00 p.m.

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