NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made history on Saturday, May 30, after they launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida towards the International Space Station (ISS). The history was two-fold, with it being the first launch from American soil since 2011, as well as being the first time that astronauts were sent into space on a private space ship.
Since 2011, international space agencies, including NASA, have been relying on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, created by the national space agency Roscosmos, to taxi astronauts to and from the ISS for cost reasons.
However, private companies such as SpaceX have now made it affordable for the likes of NASA to launch from home turf once again.
NASA believes the launch could mark a new era for spaceflight, with private companies now officially being able to launch astronauts.
Alongside an image of the landmark moment, NASA said: “A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
“The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system.
“A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.”
Speaking to the men from mission control in Houston, Texas, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “The whole world saw this mission and we are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world.”
Other firms are also working on creating commercial space travel, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
SpaceX has gone from strength to strength in its launch capabilities in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, going from 11 rocket launches in 2019 to a proposed 38 in 2020.
However, the Elon Musk-backed firm has no plans to halt its progress and is aiming to launch 70 rockets from its Florida sites by 2023.
Missions will include launching the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, including upping the ante in getting 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit.
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