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Four astronauts arrive at International Space Station for historic SpaceX-NASA mission

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The four-astronaut team aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft safely arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) late Monday night after having taken off on Sunday.

This mission funded by NASA called Crew-1 is set to break a few records, said NASA officials. Not only is this the first full-length mission that the company SpaceX will conduct for NASA, but this will also potentially be the longest-length human mission that has ever been launched from U.S. territory.

The current record-holder is a Skylab mission from 45 years ago that saw a 84-day stay. It goes without mentioning, too, that this is only the second time that SpaceX has launched humans and not empty spaceships that are piloted remotely into space.

The spacecraft, named Resilience, docked safely at the famous low-Earth orbit station at around 11 pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Monday after sailing toward the facility and locking onto one of the ports on the station’s central module. The four astronauts, who had been in the vehicle for almost more than 30 hours, disembarked from the vehicle two hours after arriving so that a series of diagnostics for safety could be performed and they were smiling when they exited the spacecraft.

SpaceX tweeted the news about Resilience successfully docking at the ISS Monday night, writing, “Docking confirmed – Crew Dragon has arrived at the @space_station!”

The four astronauts included Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker from NASA, and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut from Japan’s space agency.

One story from this trip to the ISS that has been gathering a decent amount of traction in the news reports is that the crew brought along with them a little friend: a plush Baby Yoda doll from the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian” set in the Star Wars fictional universe.

When a SpaceX mission controller told the flight crew that the docking was complete, the mission’s commander, Hopkins, said, “Excellent job, right down the center. SpaceX and NASA, congratulations: This is a new era of operational flights to the International Space Station from the Florida coast.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Taliban Holds Parade for 250 Newly Trained Soldiers with American-Made Weapons Left Behind

As the result of an ill-prepared withdrawal that went horribly wrong, the Taliban now holds a large stock of weapons and equipment left behind.

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On Sunday, Taliban forces held a very bone-chilling parade showing off their captured American-made armored military vehicles and Russian helicopters. The act was “a display that showed their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a regular standing army” writes CNN.

The Taliban are no longer terror insurgents fighting against American forces that had once freed Afghanistan from the Taliban. As the result of an ill-prepared withdrawal that went horribly wrong, the Taliban now holds a large stock of weapons and equipment left behind.

The parade was part of a graduation for 250 newly trained Taliban soldiers, said defense ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi. CNN reports, “The exercise involved dozens of US-made M117 armored security vehicles driving slowly up and down a major Kabul road with MI-17 helicopters patrolling overhead. Many soldiers carried American-made M4 assault rifles.”

Tragically, much of the weaponry taunted in the parade by Taliban forces were supplied by the United States to the American-backed government in Kabul during the past two decades. The equipment was to aid an Afghan national force and make it capable of fighting the Taliban.

As forces fled Afghanistan, some of the military equipment provided by western forces was flown into Central Asian Countries in an attempt to avoid it landing in the hands of the Taliban. It remains unclear exactly how much of what did end up in Taliban control is still operational.

American troops destroyed over 70 aircraft and dozens of armored vehicles, as well as disabled air defenses before flying out of Kabul during the frenetic evacuation. CNN reports “Taliban officials have said that pilots, mechanics and other specialists from the former Afghan National Army would be integrated into a new force, which has also started wearing conventional military uniforms in place of the traditional Afghan clothing normally worn by their fighters.”

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