SpaceX launches NASA astronauts into orbit on historic mission

The Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission is the first astronaut launch Elon Musk's SpaceX has ever performed.

In this still image taken from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, takes flight Saturday.

The mission will conclude with the Crew Dragon undocking from the station, deorbiting, and returning Behnken and Hurley to Earth with a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA.

"The main rules of concern include flight through precipitation, the anvil cloud rule and the cumulus cloud rule", Weather Channel meteorologist Jacqui Jeras previously told Newsweek, "Basically, scattered storms with lightning and/or thick clouds within 10 nautical miles of the historic launch pad 39A [at the Kennedy Space Center] will be the most likely cause of another scrub".

SpaceX launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The plan worked. In 2012, an unoccupied, robotic SpaceX capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station-a first for a commercially-owned and operated spaceship.

In the intervening years, NASA outsourced the job of designing and building its next generation of spaceships to SpaceX and Boeing, awarding them US$7 billion in contracts in a public-private partnership aimed at driving down costs and spurring innovation.

"This is a great time in America to be able to do this again", Hurley said in comments May 20 when he and Behnken arrived at KSC for the launch, calling the development of commercial crew vehicles a "marathon" by NASA and SpaceX.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, said he was "so proud" after the successful launch.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV - another Musk product - Behnken pantomimed a hug of his six-year-old son, Theo, and said: "Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?"

The spacecraft was detached from the rocket 12 minutes after lift-off. The Crew Dragon is the first private spacecraft to undertake a manned mission to the ISS. I thought it was so important to be here today.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is a modified version of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon - a transport vehicle used to resupply the ISS. "When you see a sight like that it's incredible", Trump said. 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. The company has built and tested the capsule for the past six years. 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. At 04:55 p.m. EDT (01:55 p.m. PDT), the astronauts will take control of Crew Dragon for the first of two manual flight tests created to show that astronauts can take control in the event of a system's failure.

This is the last step for SpaceX before Crew Dragon is certified for use by NASA. "Similar to when the first commercial airline flights began, I think the world will be changed forever".

"It's something we maybe dreamed about when we were new [astronaut candidates] - flying something other than the space shuttle", Behnken said.

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