SpaceX successfully launches two NASA astronauts into orbit for historic flight

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SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to liftoff at 3:22 pm Eastern Time (1922 GMT) from Florida's Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon capsule. The launch sequence was executed perfectly, with the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 and heading into orbit.

The first crewed orbital launch from the United States in almost nine years took place May 30, placing a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with two NASA astronauts on board into orbit, bound for the International Space Station. The capsule hopes to dock at the space station on Sunday at about 10:29 a.m. ET.

NASA has had to pay Russian Federation for its Soyuz rockets to take USA astronauts to space ever since the shuttle program ended and the decision was taken to shift to commercial partners. Up until now it has only been governments that have launched people into space", former astronaut Mike Massimino previously told Newsweek, "From now on it will be private companies as well.

The mission, named Demo-2, has made Elon Musk's SpaceX the first private company to send humans into space, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel.

The historic Demo-2 mission was scrubbed Wednesday because of bad weather but went off without a hitch Saturday afternoon.

Behnken and Hurley inside the Crew Dragon this past Wednesday, prior to the postponement.

"There was simply too much electricity in the atmosphere", explained NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine at a press conference after the launch was postponed.

Asked why he felt it was important to be in Florida for the launch, given all that is going on in the country, Mr Trump said it was a "great inspiration" for the country.

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NASA had tried to discourage spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic, and extremely limited the number of employees, visitors and journalists inside Kennedy Space Center.

Four minutes into launch, NASA declared that the mission had achieved main engine cutoff (MECO) and separation from the first stage.

The Demo-2 is now fully deployed and will spend the 19 hours since launch carrying out a series of orbital maneuvers to rendezvous with the space station.

Elon Musk'sSpaceX is due to undertake a repeat attempt at launching two Americans into orbit from Florida, in a mission that would mark the first spaceflight of Nasa astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years. "So I think it comes at a very good time". "I can say that because they're on orbit", she added. It came one day after SpaceX's Starship N4 prototype, a new spacecraft Musk has been developing, blew up on its test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. NASA has invested over $3 billion in this SpaceX attempt. The spacecraft's nosecone then opened, depositing the Crew Dragon and its crew into space.

If Crew Dragon proves safe, it may ferry more than astronauts. Both companies launched their crew capsules a year ago with test dummies. SpaceX's Dragon aced all of its objectives, while Boeing's Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and nearly was destroyed because of multiple software errors.

While the mission is completely automated, both Behnken and Hurley retain the ability to manually control the capsule and will in fact do so as part of the flight, which SpaceX initially didn't want to do.

"What Elon Musk has done for the American space program is he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn't had" since the shuttle's retirement, Bridenstine said.

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