By CBSLA Staff

HAWTHORNE (CBSLA) – Two days after a four-member crew of astronauts returned to Earth following a six-month deployment to the International Space Station, Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched another crew Wednesday to the orbiting outpost.

The members of Crew-3 — the third official group of astronauts launched by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program — took flight at 6:03 p.m. California time from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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The crew was launched in the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance, powered into space by a Falcon 9 rocket. After the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth, landing on the SpaceX droneship “Just Read the Instructions” floating in the Atlantic Ocean, allowing the rocket to be reused in future missions.

The members of Crew-3 are NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist; along with European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist.

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The launch of the Crew-3 mission had been delayed repeatedly, twice due to bad weather at Cape Canaveral and once due to a minor medical issue — non-COVID-related — involving one of the astronauts.

On Monday, the members of SpaceX Crew-2 returned to Earth following their deployment to the Space Station. Flying on the Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour, the crew departed the space station around 11 a.m. California time, and the ship splashed down in the ocean off the coast of Florida about 8 1/2 hours later.

The astronauts in SpaceX’s Crew-2 were NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

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McArthur is a UCLA aerospace engineering graduate who has a doctorate in oceanography from UC San Diego, where she was a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.