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NASA, SpaceX Crew-2 launches from Kennedy Space Center

Liftoff took place at 5:49 a.m. on April 23.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA and SpaceX have officially launched the third commercial crew mission from U.S. soil. Friday's feat also marks the third launch of the program in less than a year.

The four-person crew of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are now making their way to the International Space Station.

Crew-2's launch went off without a hitch at 5:49 a.m. with the astronauts spanning three countries getting a ride in a previously flown Crew Dragon spacecraft on top of a flight-proven rocket. 

Next comes the long trek to the orbiting laboratory. NASA is targeting a 5:10 a.m. arrival and a 7:45 a.m. welcome ceremony on April 24.

During their mission, the crew will conduct science experiments, complete maintenance on the ISS, and even overlap with the Crew-1 astronauts.

Here's what you need to know from Friday's launch:

8:01 a.m. April 23: Checking in from space! A camera aboard the Dragon capsule captures an update for space lovers. The crew is a couple of hours into their flight and says they are making their second lap around the Earth.

6:06 a.m. April 23: After separating from the second stage, spaceflight commander Shane Kimbrough shares this message: "Glad to be back in space for all of us."

6:01 a.m. April 23: Less than 10 minutes later, Falcon 9 lands back on Earth on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship. The feat marked the 80th landing of an orbital class rocket booster.

5:52 a.m. April 23: Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon Endeavour hit the next milestones of main engine cutoff and stage separation.

5:49 a.m. April 23: We have liftoff! The four astronauts from three countries that make up Crew-2 have begun their trek to the International Space Station.

5:40 a.m. April 23: "We wish you a great mission, good luck, and enjoy the ride." 

Astronauts and SpaceX teams on the ground are thanking each other for all their hard work leading up to launch.

5:20 a.m. April 23: The International Space Station can be seen in the skies above the Kennedy Space Center. 

5:06 a.m. April 23: The crew access arm retraction begins with just less than 40 minutes until liftoff.

4:52 a.m. April 23: The closeout crew has left the launch pad and the "GO" for launch is given.

4 a.m. April 23: Going through the pre-launch steps can take quite some time, but Crew-2 is ahead of schedule and passing the time by playing rock, paper scissors. 

3:40 a.m. April 23: The side hatch to Crew Dragon Endeavour is closed and leak checks are beginning.

3:20 a.m. April 23: The astronauts are inside the capsule while communication checks are underway.

3:14 a.m. April 23: Crew-2 astronauts have hopped in their custom Teslas and are on their way to the launchpad. Each astronaut typically has a playlist of music they listen to get hyped up ahead of launch.

2:33 a.m. April 23: The four Crew-2 astronauts take part in the staple moment of exiting the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to wave goodbye and see their families one last time before launch.

Credit: NASA, via AP
In this photo provided by NASA, from left to right, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-2 mission launch, Friday, April 23, 2021, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Four astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Crew mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on April 23, 2021. (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)

2:03 a.m. April 23: Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide and Pesquet are suiting up ahead of launch. The spacesuits are customized for each astronaut.

April 22: What's on the menu? Crew-2 is sharing a look at their last dinner in quarantine ahead of launch tomorrow. 

April 22: SpaceX reports all systems and weather are looking good for Friday's launch. 

April 22: Here's what astronaut Shane Kimbrough plans on listening to Friday morning during the drive out to the pad.

April 21: Want to learn more about the Crew-2 astronauts? You're in luck. NASA dropped this video with the third commercial crew. 

April 21: NASA, SpaceX officials share that launch has been pushed back to 5:49 a.m. ET on April 23 due to "unfavorable weather conditions."

While Thursday's launch was originally given an 80-percent "GO," conditions along the flight path and recovery area, in the unlikely event of a launch escape, also come into consideration. 

April 21: If you want to rock out with astronaut Megan McArthur ahead of liftoff you're in luck! She shared her playlist for the drive out to the pad.

April 20: The final walk the astronauts will take is along the crew arm which was extended at Launch Complex 39A Tuesday.

April 18: NASA and SpaceX's Crew-2 is another step closer to launch after Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide and Pesquet participated in a dress rehearsal.

April 17: Static fire test of Falcon 9 is completed by SpaceX.

April 16: Wheels down in Florida! The crew is officially on the ground at Kennedy Space Center.

April 16: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet shares a video of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon from above as the crew plane arrives in Florida.

April 15: Flight Readiness Review for the launch of Crew Dragon is deemed "GO" to proceed.

April 14: SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour makes its way from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to Launch Complex 39A.

April 8: Crew-2 astronauts enter their quarantine period leading up to launch day. Quarantining is standard practice for astronauts prior to liftoff, regardless of the pandemic.

April 7: The crew gets the chance to see its Dragon capsule and adds their initials to it for good luck.

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