SpaceX rocket ship blasts off into orbit with NASA astronauts

 

 

A rocket ship built by Elon Musk's SpaceX company on Saturday successfully blasted off with two NASA astronauts into orbit from the US state of Florida on their way to the International Space Station, marking the dawn of a new age in commercial space travel.

The blast off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida also assumes significance as it marks the launch of humans into orbit from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (49) and Doug Hurley (53), lifted off at 3:22 pm EDT Saturday atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

With the liftoff, SpaceX became the first private company to launch people into orbit, a feat achieved previously by only three governments: the United States, Russia and China.

The reusable, gumdrop-shaped capsule called Crew Dragon, would now take the two American astronauts to a 19-hour journey to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 10:29 am EDT on Sunday.

The successful launch, which was postponed early this week due to inclement weather, gave Americans something to cheer about as in the last three months they have lost over 100,000 of their countrymen due to the coronavirus that has brought the country's economy to its knee.

Known as NASA's SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX's second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Programme.

After successfully docking, the crew will be welcomed aboard the International Space Station, where they will become members of the Expedition 63 crew, which currently includes NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy.

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