New era in space travel: SpaceX successfully launches NASA Astronauts to the Space Station
The last manned launch was in 2011, almost a decade ago
30 May 2020

SpaceX successfully launches NASA Astronauts from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ushering in a new age of human spaceflight. The last manned launch was in 2011, almost a decade ago, and costed around $1.5B. While still expensive for most, this latest launch only costs around $62M + $55M/astronaut, a fraction of the cost of a decade ago's launch.

Rocket Falcon launches from Kennedy NASA Center (Left), Astronauts Behnken and Hurley give thumbs up inside the Dragon capsule (Right)
Rocket Falcon launches from Kennedy NASA Center (Left), Astronauts Behnken and Hurley give thumbs up inside the Dragon capsule (Right)

The launch was expected to bring thousands of crowds to the Florida space coast, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, the agency urged the public to stay-at-home to watch the launch virtually. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as well as US President and Vice President, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, were present to witness the launch.

A rocketship named Dragon breathed new fire into America’s human spaceflight programme on Saturday, carrying two astronauts on a much-anticipated adventure. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon crew capsule from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station (ISS) marked the first time since 2011 that humans had blasted off into orbit from US soil.

Rocket Falcon launches from Kennedy NASA Center
Rocket Falcon launches from Kennedy NASA Center

"But the journey is much more than just about to get us to the International Space Station (ISS). It's about who we are as a people and the future as a people," Elon Musk said. Musk's comments came a few hours after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the center's historic Launch Complex 39A, carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. "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 said. "This is something that I think humanity should be excited about proud of occurring on this day."

If all goes well with the Demo-2 test flight, SpaceX will soon begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA as well as other space agencies and private companies. The first operational Crew Dragon mission, called Crew-1, could launch to the ISS as early as Aug. 30, with three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on board.

Astronauts Behnken and Hurley communicate with NASA inside the Dragon capsule
Astronauts Behnken and Hurley communicate with NASA inside the Dragon capsule

Behnken and Hurley will arrive at the ISS Sunday morning (May 30), and the Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously dock with the orbiting lab at 10:29 a.m. EDT on Monday. You can watch the docking live here on SpaceX live stream.

 
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