The global space race comes at a cost, as exploration missions, anti-satellite missile tests and accidental collisions continue to add to the millions of pieces of trash already orbiting the Earth.
US officials condemn a Russian weapons test which created more than 1,500 pieces of space junk now 'threatening' the seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
A four-person crew of ISS astronauts have returned to Earth in a Dragon capsule called Endeavour.
The spaceship is due to launch on an Atlas V rocket built by the United Launch Alliance from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 1720 GMT.
NASA's Shane Kimbrough and France's Thomas Pesquet tackled the second in a series of powerful solar wings that should keep the space station running the rest of this decade, as space tourism ramps up with visitors beginning in the fall.
China has prioritised space exploration in recent years, with the aim of becoming a major space power by 2030.
The mission marks the second "operational" space station team launched by NASA aboard a Crew Dragon capsule since human spaceflights resumed from American soil last year following a nine-year hiatus.
This is the third crewed flight to be launched into orbit under NASA’s fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX, this time with two Americans, one French and one Japanese astronaut.
Russia's Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov along with NASA's Kate Rubins landed on barren land at 0455 GMT in Kazakhstan.
SpaceX beat Blue Origin and Dynetics to win the contract and become what NASA called its "most trusted private sector partner."
After SpaceX's arrival, the spacecraft will have completed its final key test to prove it can transport astronauts to and from space.
The liftoff of the Mars orbiter named Amal, or Hope, from Japan marked the start of a rush to fly to Earth’s neighbour that includes attempts by China and the US.
Subscribe to our Youtube channel for all latest in-depth, on the ground reporting from around the world.
Copyright © 2021 TRT World.