SpaceX Sends Astronauts Into Orbit

  • General
  • May 30, 2020
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  • 4 minutes read
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley (right).

Photo credit: SpaceX

Following a three-day delay that originated from inconvenient weather, SpaceX today attempted and successfully launched two NASA astronauts, by the names of Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, into the Earth’s orbit en-route to the International Space Station (ISS). The successful launch marks the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. after nearly a decade of hiatus, given that the last time human astronauts launched from U.S. soil was in 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch rocket successfully launched the two NASA astronauts who were aboard a SpaceX Dragon re-usable spacecraft at about 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The launch took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

Some minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket, having launched the Dragon capsule into orbit, successfully glided back into the Earth and landed atop SpaceX’s Of Course I Still Love You drone ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, NASA’s astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, are in orbit en-route to the International Space Station. As at launch time, the journey to the International Space Station was estimated to be 19 hours long.

SpaceX’s successful launch marks the first-ever time a private company has launched humans into space. Before now, the only way for astronauts to get to the ISS was via Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft, which NASA had been paying more than $90 million per seat for. The launch notably originates from a Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program kickstarted by the Obama administration in the US. Under that program, SpaceX received $2.6 billion in funding to build new spacecraft for NASA to facilitate manned crew missions, and apparently, SpaceX has proven fruitful on that deal, having just launched two of NASA’s astronauts into orbit.

SpaceX’s launch represents the final major test for the company to be certified by NASA for operational manned crew missions to and from the International Space Station. With its apparent success, SpaceX seems set for more contracts and patronization from NASA and possibly other national space agencies.

SpaceX’s launch marks a turning point for America’s future in space exploration and also lays the groundwork for future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

The hours-long journey of NASA’s two orbiting astronauts to the International Space Station can be monitored here.

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