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SpaceX rocket lifts-off as French astronaut heads to ISS

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The Crew Dragon astronauts (from left) France's Thomas Pesquet, NASA's Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide
The Crew Dragon astronauts (from left) France's Thomas Pesquet, NASA's Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide   -   Copyright  AP/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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A French astronaut has lifted-off on a SpaceX launch, in a delayed mission to the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule carrying Thomas Pesquet and his three colleagues successfully reached nominal orbit around 10 minutes into the flight, traveling at around 27,000km/h.

They are heading to the ISS in a recycled Dragon capsule, which was fired up off Earth on a recycled rocket.

The capsule has separated successfully from the Falcon 9 rocket's first and second stages.

It is SpaceX’s third crewed launch, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, but poor weather conditions forced a delay.

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule requires calm waves and winds in case an emergency splashdown is needed during the climb to orbit.

But Friday's weather was good, and the launch to take the astronauts out of the Earth's atmosphere went smoothly.

Watch the launch in the video player above.

Alongside the Frenchman on the six-month mission are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide.

Pesquet will be bringing a gift of French food prepared by star chefs to the team on the International Space Station.

The journey will take just under 24 hours, and involves a number of procedures to get the capsule safely to the ISS.

Five major thruster burns will bring the spacecraft closer to the height of orbit of the ISS in various stages.

Joel Kowsky/(NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The SpaceX rocket with the company's Dragon capsule ready at the Kennedy Space Centre in FloridaJoel Kowsky/(NASA/Joel Kowsky)

For the first time, Elon Musk’s company is launching astronauts with a previously flown capsule and rocket, as it has done for station supply runs.

This crew capsule launched with SpaceX’s first crew last May, and the rocket lifted off the second crew in November.

When the Dragon Endeavour arrives at the ISS it will be the first time there are two crewed Dragon capsules docked there.

It will also bring the population of the ISS up to 11 - making things slightly cramped.

There are four crew quarters, which sleep six in total.

The commanders of the Dragon capsules will sleep in their vehicles, leaving the remaining three astronauts to rough it somewhat in other parts of the ISS.