On Saturday, May 30, NASA and SpaceX successfully launched Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida carrying two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
It was a second attempt of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration (Demo-2) mission as the first, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed due to unsuitable weather conditions.
Being the first private commercial spacecraft to carry astronauts into space and the first crewed U.S. spaceflight to depart from American soil since 2011, the launch marked an extremely significant milestone for the company as well as for the country’s history. The mission is an end-to-end test flight, which is performed to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations to lay the groundwork for human space transportation.
After the countdown, watching the historic mission begin, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk was overwhelmed with emotions and pride. “I think this is something that’s particularly important in the United States but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration”, Musk told reporters. “It’s something that I think humanity should be excited about and proud of”.
The length of the mission is uncertain yet is expected to last up to 110 days. According to Musk, the return is in some ways more dangerous than the lift-off, therefore the victory can only be declared after the landing.