SpaceX launched two American NASA astronauts into Earth’s orbit on Saturday, marking the return of manned rockets lifting off from the United States after nine years.
Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were launched at 3:22 pm EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA officials repeatedly spoke of the historic space mission, noting this was the first launch of a commercially owned manned spacecraft, under the control of Space-X, owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk.
“Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars,” as reported on the NASA website.
Also, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were in attendance to watch the launch.
Speaking at Kennedy Space Center following the launch, Trump described America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars…..With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over,” he said.
During their first hours in space, Behnken and Hurley worked with SpaceX mission control to check the spacecraft’s environmental control system, the displays, controls and the thrusters, along with other systems.
On Sunday, the astronauts docked to the International Space Station at 10:29 am EST.
Watch the launch:
— NASA (@NASA) May 30, 2020