Photo by Bob Eichman

Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Friday morning, sending four civilian astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). This mission marks the third time that Musk’s spacecrafts have sent human passengers into space in less than a year.

At around 5:55 a.m., some early-risers in Charleston spotted the rocket as it shot away from Earth. Bob Eichman, who lives near Ladson, captured the photo seen above.

The rocket launched in Florida at 5:50 a.m., so he said it took about five minutes to reach an area in the sky where he could see it. After that, the entire experience lasted roughly five minutes.

“Back in 2020, when the Falcon 9 launched, it was the same kind of deal. You could see it from Charleston at 5:30 in the morning,” he said. “That was pretty neat, but watching the launch this morning was spectacular.”

Eichman said the rocket was high enough in the sky that he and his neighbor, who joined him in the street to watch, were able to actually witness the first stage separating and falling away. “The contrails from the rocket really fanned out on this one,” he said, “The 2020 launch looked more like a jet in the sky. But the contrails on this one were pretty amazing.”

The Crew-2 mission marks the first time that the same SpaceX rocket and capsule have been reused, a major milestone for space travel. As Eichman mentioned, the Falcon 9 launched in November 2020 and the Crew Dragon spacecraft was previously used during in May 2020 when SpaceX launched its first crewed flight.

SpaceX’s Crew-2, which includes Shaun Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko “Aki” Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet, is expected to reach the ISS early Saturday morning, roughly 23 hours after liftoff.

Did you capture a photo of the SpaceX rocket launch this morning? Send it to us at samantha@charlestoncitypaper.com.