SpaceX created history today as it successfully launched astronauts in the space for the first time. The space agency became the first commercial agency to carry out a crewed space flight.
NASA Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are making a trip to the International Space Station (ISS), and will stay there from 6 to 16 weeks. The liftoff was successful in the second attempt after the first attempt on May 27 had to be called off due to the bad weather.
Earlier today, NASA said that there was a 50% chance the launch would be canceled again because of bad weather. However, the team went ahead with the launch with liftoff taking place at 3.22 PM ET.
Hurley and Behnken will now spend 19 hours in space before docking to the ISS. Meanwhile, SpaceX reported that the booster used to launch the astronauts in space has safely returned to the earth.
The @SpaceX #CrewDragon launched at 3:22pm EST today with @Astro_Doug & @AstroBehnken onboard. It will dock to the space station Sunday about 2:27pm. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/pfTdcoVqiN pic.twitter.com/eQjpDUjeXQ
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) May 30, 2020
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the team on the successful liftoff.
For the first time in 9 years, we have now launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I'm so proud of the @NASA and @SpaceX team for making this moment possible. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/XiqPAj6Saa
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 30, 2020
This was also a historical launch for NASA, as it was the first time US astronauts were making a trip to space since the space shuttle program shut down in 2011. In 2014, the space agency awarded contracts Boeing and SpaceX to fly six missions to ISS each. Eventually, after several delays, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was able to deliver the first launch today.
While both companies will observe how this mission goes forward, they’re already planning their next crew launch scheduled for August 30. This mission will carry four astronauts: NASA’s Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.