Four astronauts have begun their journey to the International Space Station (ISS) after a historic SpaceX launch.
It is only the second time that SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has taken people to the space station, after a launch back in May this year.
The crew, which is made up of three US NASA astronauts and one Japanese astronaut, lifted-off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida at 7.27pm local time (12.27am GMT), after weather conditions put the launch in doubt.
It is also the second time in almost a decade that a manned space flight has lifted off from the US, after the retirement of the shuttle programme in 2011.
It will take the crew around 27 hours to reach the ISS, and they will spend around five to six months in Earth’s orbit.
Mike Hopkins, the crew’s leader, is joined by physicist Shannon Walker and Navy commander Victor Glover, who will be the first black astronaut to spend an extended period of time on board the ISS.
Commander Glover will also be making his first ever trip to the ISS.
Soichi Noguchi, from Japan, is the third person in history to orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft.
The crew have named their craft Resilience, as a nod to the challenges that 2020 has presented.
He tweeted: “Astronaut launch today!”, adding despite having mild coronavirus symptoms, he felt “pretty normal”.
Vice-president Mike Pence was at the launch on Florida’s east coast, as SpaceX begins its eagerly anticipated rotations of private manned launches.
Resilience had to lift off at exactly 7.27pm to hit its trajectory for the ISS, and tracked across the north Atlantic as it made its way into orbit.