NASA and SpaceX launch Crew-8 to ISS.

On Sunday, SpaceX and NASA launched Crew-8 from NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the ISS.Dragon flew four men to the ISS on SpaceX's ninth NASA Commercial Crew Program rotation. Poor weather canceled the previous two launches, so Sunday's was the third.

The launch went off at 10:53 p.m. after engineers decided a small hatch seal crack wouldn't be enough to abort. The ground crew applauded when the first-stage booster separated and Dragon entered space before 11 p.m.

Commander Matthew Dominick, pilot Michael Barratt, mission specialist Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin are NASA astronauts. Only Barratt is returning to the ISS after three visits.

Dragon was launched by SpaceX's Falcon 9, a “reusable, two-stage rocket,” the first of its type. It will arrive at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station after detaching from Dragon.

The ISS crew will return in the fall after six months. A minor air leak aboard the space station was discovered by administrators days ago.“It’s not an impact to Crew-8, but I didn’t want anybody to be surprised,”

SS Program Manager Joel Montalbano told a Crew-8 mission briefing. Supervisors believe the leak won't risk crew safety, but “teams are watching it.”

Taking stem cells to space to study their effects on degenerative disease and studying the cellular effects of microgravity and ultraviolet radiation on plants are ways to enhance plant nutrition during protracted stays.

Weightless astronauts will be examined for fluid reduction with leg pressure cuffs. ISS astronauts have eye and head pressure issues because body fluids migrate into the head without gravity.

Crew-8 will launch smoothie-maker spirulina. Astronauts investigate if microalgae can produce food and oxygen by eliminating CO₂ from the air. While the launch calendar may seem typical, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson warned against complacency.

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