View this post on Instagram
🚀 We did it, @spacex. For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station (@iss). The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley (@astro.doug) lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30 on the Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31. After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard, where they will become members of the Expedition 63 crew, which currently includes NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (@astro_seal). Photos 1, 3 Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls Photos 2, 4 Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky (The first image in this set is a false color infrared exposure of liftoff.) #nasa #spacex #launch #crewdragon #spacecraft #liftoff #launchamerica
This is the first crew ever to take flight under a private company and saw the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The first home-grown space mission to take off from US ground since 2011, the mission was originally scheduled to happen on May 27, but had to be postponed due to tropical storms in the area.
Astronaut Doug Hurley commented just before take-off: “It is absolutely our honor to be part of his huge effort to get the United States back in the launch business. We’ll talk to you from orbit.” Behnken kept his colleagues promise by radio’ing in: “It was incredible,” moments after the spacecraft reached orbit. “Appreciate all the hard work and thanks for the great ride to space.”
The mission will serve as a critical, nail-biting test for the SpaceX program as a whole since its purpose is to send humankind to space with a view to eventually colonizing Mars.
“We’re at the dawn of a new age and we’re really leading the beginning of the space revolution,” NASA deputy administrator Jim Morhard told the press ahead of the launch.
Watch the entire launch here:
In addition to this mission, there is a wider partnership at play as both parties gauge how feasible it will be for SpaceX to become the spacecraft of choice moving forward for NASA. In a deal that could be worth around $55 million per astronaut, SpaceX could use Crew Dragon spacecraft for other future missions. We could even see their shuttles being used for space tourism as early as next year.