SpaceX rocket successfully launches, heads to International Space Station

The mission was scrubbed Wednesday because of rain, liftoff at 3:22 p.m. Saturday was under partly cloudy skies

Last Updated:
May 31, 2020 - 8:47pm

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon successfully launched on Saturday, heading to join the International Space Station with two veteran NASA pilots at the helm. 

The launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida, represents the first time since 2011 that U.S. astronauts have flown from American soil. Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, veterans of the Space Shuttle program, are on board the rocket. 

The craft had been scheduled to launch on Wednesday before liftoff was scrubbed due to bad weather. 

The weather at the 3:22 p.m. launch was 84 degrees, with mostly sunny skies.

President Trump, who was at the NASA center for the launched, has touted the launch as "very important militarily."

"I'm so proud of the people, of NASA, public and private," Trump said after the launch. "When you see a sight like that, it's incredible. When you hear the sound  – that roar – you can imagine how dangerous it is."

The public-private partnership between SpaceX and the U.S. government marks the first time a private company has sent NASA astronauts to the space station. 

The craft entered space at 3:35 p.m. to the cheers and whoops of those at the NASA command center, after several quiet moments as the craft burned through its second rocket and escaped earth's gravity. 

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by the Telsa electric-car maker Elon Musk, who hopes to utilize the company to facilitate human colonization of Mars. Trump on Saturday called Musk one of the "great minds."

The craft will autonomously dock with the Space Station when it arrives Sunday, though the crew is able to take over manual controls if necessary. Hurley and Behnken could reportedly stay from one to four months. The astronauts will return on SpaceX. 

 

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