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Astronauts Head To Space Station On SpaceX Rocket

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We gathered the kids around the television last night, watching a rocket on a launch pad lit up after dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Five, four, three, two, one, zero. Ignition. Lift off.

(SOUNDBITE OF IGNITION ROARING)

INSKEEP: In a burst of flame, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launched last night from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The private company is ferrying four astronauts to the International Space Station. It's the first time SpaceX has done this work for NASA, the government agency administered by Jim Bridenstine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM BRIDENSTINE: The big milestone here is that we are now moving away from development and testing. This is truly a commercial launch vehicle, and we're grateful to our partners at SpaceX for providing it.

INSKEEP: The launch appeared flawless. Within minutes, the four astronauts, in their black boots and white suits, were hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth. The commander, Colonel Mike Hopkins, radioed back to Earth, quote, "that was one heck of a ride."

MARTIN: The capsule is expected to arrive at the space station late today and will remain there until the spring. SpaceX wants to launch another crew in late summer or early fall.

(SOUNDBITE OF NORTHCAPE'S "INDIGO LINE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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