Elon Musk’s aerospace company is sending a rocket into space this weekend. Four astronauts will travel with her to the ISS. More missions are planned in the coming months.

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Six months after its historic flight to the International Space Station (ISS), Tesla founder Elon Musk’s US company SpaceX is sending a manned rocket into space for the first time on a routine six-month mission. The “Crew Dragon” capsule will take off Saturday evening (local time) from the Kennedy Space Center spaceport towards the ISS, the US space agency NASA announced. Three NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan’s Soichi Noguchi will be on board.

“I am very proud”

Nasa stated Tuesday that the Crew Dragon capsule is safe. “I am extremely proud to say that we are returning to normal manned space flight with an American rocket and an American spaceship taking off from American soil,” said NASA chief Jim Bridenstine.

The mission will start on Saturday at 7:49 PM local time (Sunday at 1:49 PM CET). Eight hours later, the spaceship must reach its destination. The four astronauts will then stay on the ISS for six months.

Seven missions for NASA

SpaceX’s director of manned space flights, Benji Reed, said on Tuesday that his company would organize a total of seven manned or cargo missions for NASA over the next 15 months. As of December there will be a “constant presence of SpaceX ‘Dragons’ in orbit”.

In recent years, American astronauts have relied on Russian missiles to reach the ISS. Nasa ended its shuttle program nine years ago due to high costs and after two accidents.

“Starliner” capsule is still in the testing phase

To regain Russia’s independence, the US government led by Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama commissioned SpaceX and aviation giant Boeing to build space shuttles. Boeing’s “Starliner” capsule is still in the testing phase and is not expected to be ready until next year.

The space flight, which starts on Saturday, is therefore an opportunity for SpaceX to position itself as the American market leader in space travel. In late May, the company successfully sent two American astronauts on a two-month mission to the ISS for the first time.

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