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SpaceX's Crew-5 mission blasts off to International Space Station

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launchpad 39A with a Crew-5 Dragon capsule on top at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/afa8cc8ace806d677c7628f5fdfdb20a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launchpad 39A with a Crew-5 Dragon capsule on top at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- NASA and SpaceX's Crew-5 mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at noon EDT on Wednesday and is on its way to the International Space Station.

The crew, which includes NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, are scheduled to work aboard the space station for six months.

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance capsule was carried into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket, which separated from the main vehicle and successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Falcon 9 is designed as a partially reusable launch platform, with a first stage rocket that can be guided back to Earth. On Wednesday, it landed on a special drone ship after separating from the second stage. The second stage booster in this generation of Falcon is not reusable, but SpaceX's next manned vehicle project, the Starship, is expected to be have a fully reusable launch platform.

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The Crew-5 mission marks two important milestones, as commander Nicole Mann becomes the first Indigenous woman in space, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina becomes the first Russian to fly on a SpaceX mission.

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Cooperation between the United States and Russia on space exploration is expected to continue until 2024 amid tension between the two global powers following the invasion of Ukraine.

After that, Russian officials have said the country will build its own space station.

RELATED NASA resets for Crew-5, Artemis I missions post-Ian

The crew already onboard the ISS is scheduled to return to Earth in a few days and is preparing for the Endurance Dragon crew's arrival on Thursday.

While onboard the space station, the crew will conduct experiments on how to grow food in space in the hopes of one day being able to sustain interplanetary travel.

The launch was postponed last week due to Hurricane Ian.

RELATED NASA postpones Crew-5 mission over Hurricane Ian

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