SpaceX successfully launches NASA astronauts into orbit

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket successfully lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, sending two NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley into orbit on Saturday.
May 31, 2020 | 14:23
spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit Space X: Unfavorable weather prevents Falcon 9’s liftoff, next attempt on Saturday
spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit SpaceX Launch update: How to Watch, How the weather can delay?
spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit SpaceX launch time: Impacted by weather
spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit

A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Photo: AP)

A Dream Come True

According to NDTV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying two veteran NASA astronauts was headed for the International Space Station on Saturday on the first ever crewed flight by a private company, ushering in a new era in space travel.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flame and smoke from Florida's Kennedy Space Center for the 19-hour voyage to the orbiting space station.

"Let's light this candle," Hurley, the spacecraft mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22 pm (1922 GMT) from NASA's fabled Launch Pad 39A.

The SpaceX launch is the first of American astronauts from US soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 and the company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk is the first commercial firm to send astronauts into orbit.

"This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX," Musk said.

spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit
Donald Trump, Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence applaud after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The mission ends a government monopoly on space flight and is the final test flight before NASA certifies SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule for regular crewed missions.

The Falcon 9 took off from the same launch pad used by NASA's final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, reported by the Hindu.

The mission's first launch try on Wednesday was called off with less than 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock. Weather again threatened Saturday's launch, but cleared in time to begin the mission.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has said resuming launches of American astronauts on American-made rockets from U.S. soil is the space agency's top priority.

For Mr. Musk, the launch represents another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and more frequent. And it marks the first time commercially developed space vehicles — owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA — have carried Americans into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the space shuttle program.

spacex successfully launches nasa astronauts into orbit
Nasa astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken wave while seated in a Tesla SUV on their way to Pad 39-A, at the Kennedy Space Center. (Photograph: John Raoux/AP)

Special Day

President Donald Trump flew to Florida aboard Air Force One to watch the launch and later delivered remarks to NASA and SpaceX employees. “It's incredible, the power, the technology,” said U.S. President Donald Trump, “That was a beautiful sight to see.”

Trump lavishly praised SpaceX founder Musk and said it was a "special day" that demonstrates a "renewed commitment to America's future in space."

"Today's launch makes clear the commercial space industry is the future," Trump said.

Trump has made space a priority through the foundation of space force as a branch of the US military, independent of Nasa, and the unveiling of his America First National Space Strategy.

He has also directed Nasa to land humans on the moon by 2024, for the first time since the final Apollo mission in 1972, although the agency’s deep-space Artemis program is many months behind schedule and over budget, reported by the Guardian.

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