SpaceX launches American astronauts for first time in almost 10 years

From this point onward, the Falcon 9's second stage continued to push the Crew Dragon into orbit while the first stage began the process of returning to the surface.

This is SpaceX's final test flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

Today's launch came after the first planned mission start was scrubbed on Wednesday, when NASA concluded that an approaching storm front raised the risk of a lightning strike as well as rain and high winds.

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to taxi astronauts to and from the space station, under contracts totaling $7 billion.

Aerospace giant Boeing Co, producing its own launch system in competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner vehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next year.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was asked when his company's Starship super-rocket, which is now under development, could be expected to make its first flight around the moon.

If all goes well Saturday, it will be the first time Musk's private space firm, SpaceX, will launch a human crew.

Hurley and Behnken noted Friday that they endured numerous delays on their space shuttle flights, for both technical and weather reason.

Musk's success means that NASA won't have to concern itself with mundane lower space orbit travel and can focus on "gearing up for another trip to the moon and beyond", McDowell said.

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

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SpaceX has also succeeded in retrieving the booster stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which separated from the rest of the rocket minutes into lift-off. Cut us some slack, it's been a long day of reporting on Demo-2 and besides, the SATs haven't used the analogy section in years. "It's been nine years since we've launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and now it's done". And at the launch centre, the SpaceX controllers wore masks and were seated far apart. Now, the private spaceflight company and NASA-manned flight will take off at 3:22 p.m. E.T. on Saturday from central Florida.

Astronaut Bob Behnken and Hurley removed their fashionable SpaceX space suits just before Hurley completed the manual maneuvers, which is also part of the plan. "When you see a sight like that it's incredible", Trump said.

Both the crew and weather are "go" for launch, according to NASA. The original Dragon capsule had previously made regular cargo runs to the ISS. 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.

"And I think any one of you would say, that was an inspiration to see what we just saw".

"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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