Georgia native blasts off to International Space Station aboard SpaceX rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A Georgia native is one of four astronauts aboard a rocket headed to the International Space Station Friday morning.

SpaceX and NASA launched the Falcon 9 Rocket at 5:49 a.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida. This is the second time NASA has partnered with SpaceX to send a crew to the space station.

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Four astronauts are inside the Dragon capsule, including Shane Kimbrough, a Lovett School and Georgia Tech graduate.

The crew will spend six months at the orbiting lab, replacing another SpaceX crew that’s close to coming home.

This will be the first crew flight using a recycled Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Both were designed for reuse.

The rocket was used to launch the current station crew last November from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The capsule, dubbed Endeavour, also will be making a repeat performance; it carried two test pilots to the space station on SpaceX’s first crew flight last spring.

For nearly a decade, the only route to the space station for astronauts was on Russian rockets. NASA turned to private companies for taxi service after the space shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX has been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012, using the same kind of rocket and similar capsules, and recycling those parts as well.

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