Elon Musk-run SpaceX, on Saturday sent two NASA astronauts to the international space station (ISS) in a landmark mission marking the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is also the first time that US astronauts have been sent into space by a private company, signalling an end to the US dependence on the Russian space technology.
Lauren Lyons SpaceX engineer said “I can’t believe it with my own eyes. I’m so grateful they’re up there,”
According to NASA the journey would take approximately 19 hours and the astronauts should reach the space station at around 10.30 ET (Eastern Time) on Sunday.
After the launch of the rocket the first stage booster separated in a minute from the second-stage of the rocket and flew itself back to Earth and fall back safely onto a landing platform floating in the Atlantic.
US President Donald Trump who was at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the launch said “It’s incredible, the power, the technology,”
Earlier, NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday due to bad weather.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said “I’m breathing a sigh of relief, but I will also tell you I’m not gonna celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.”
Musk the south African-born high-tech entrepreneur, he founded Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, in 2002.
In competition with SpaceX Boeing Co, producing its own launch system is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner vehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next year for the development of their rival rockets NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion combined to SpaceX and Boeing.
However, as the major advance toward the goal of eventually sending humans to Mars Trump has also hailed the launch.
-Davinder Panesar, NMTV News