Falcon 9 lifts off
The Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Florida early Friday morning. NASA photo

Scripps Oceanography alumnus Megan McArthur and three other astronauts were in orbit following their successful flight early Friday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

McArthur, mission commander Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide of Japan and Thomas Pesquet of France lifted off at 2:49 a.m. Pacific time from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was the third successful launch of astronauts under NASA‘s commercial crew program in which private companies — SpaceX and Boeing — take over flights to the International Space Station.

“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” said NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”

The Crew Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module about 2:10 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday. In addition to the astronauts, the spacecraft will deliver almost 250 pounds of cargo, new science hardware, and experiments.

It will be McArthur’s first trip to the space station, where she will conduct research into medical technology, human health and materials over a six-month period.

In 2009, she logged nearly 13 days in space when she participated in the final Space Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronaut Megan McArthur (second from left) and crew members during a dress rehearsal of the launch. Courtesy SpaceX

Prior to becoming an astronaut, McArthur was trained as an oceanographer and engineer, earning a doctoral degree while at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She was born in Honolulu and grew up in Silicon Valley.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.