NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission took off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:53pm EST on Sunday (3 March).

The launch marks the eighth commercial crew rotation mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with SpaceX, showcasing the partnership between NASA and the private space company.

Their mission aboard the orbital laboratory focuses on conducting various science experiments and technology demonstrations.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, equipped with an autonomously operated Crew Dragon capsule named Endeavour, lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson extended congratulations, stating: “On this eighth crew rotation mission, we are once again showing the strength of our commercial partnerships and American ingenuity that will propel us further in the cosmos.”

The crew’s agenda includes over 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations during their stay on the ISS, covering diverse fields such as neurodegenerative disorders through the study of brain organoids, the impact of microgravity on plant growth, and observations of shifts in body fluids during spaceflight.

As the Dragon spacecraft, Endeavour, travels through space, SpaceX will closely monitor a series of automatic spacecraft manoeuvres from its mission control centre in Hawthorne, California.

The Endeavour is scheduled to autonomously dock with the forward port of the station’s Harmony module around 3am on Tuesday, 5 March.

In 2022 the space economy was valued at approximately $450bn, but by 2030 research company GlobalData predicts it could be worth between $760bn and $1trn. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence: space economy report found that the industry had seen a recent influx of startups and privately owned companies. Investor interest, clear market gaps and technological advancements were the main factors credited to this.  

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