SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has delivered two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station nearly 24 hours after launching. Marking the first U.S. spacecraft to do so with a crew since 2011.
The space station’s current crew welcomed NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley with hugs and handshakes. The SpaceX’s Dragon spacecrafts docking is a new milestone for the US in space. Kicking off the crew’s potentially months-long stay in the orbital laboratory.
Applause could be heard from the station’s down-link to mission control in Houston, Texas. NASA’s Behnken, 49, and Hurley 53, became the first American astronauts launched to the station from U.S. soil in nearly a decade.
“I will tell you, the whole world saw this mission, and we are so, so proud for everything you have done for our country and in fact to inspire the world,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on a phone line through mission control.
“It’s great to get the United States back in the crewed launch business, and we’re just really glad to be on board this magnificent complex,” Hurley said.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket reusable
Saturday’s launch by SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, represented another milestone for the reusable rockets. Spacecraft it pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and more frequent.
It also marked the first time that commercially developed spacecraft – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – has carried Americans into orbit.
Behnken said he and Hurley were able to get a few hours’ sleep during their 19-hour orbital journey. Telling the administrator that “the first night is always a little bit of a challenge. However the Dragon is a slick vehicle and we had good airflow so we had an excellent evening.”
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday. Just before liftoff, Hurley said, “SpaceX, we’re go for launch. Let’s light this candle,” paraphrasing the famous comment uttered on the launch pad in 1961 by Alan Shepard. The first American flown into space.
The Falcon 9 took off from the same launch pad used by NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011.
Furthermore Boeing Co, which is producing its own launch system in competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner vehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next year. NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion combined to SpaceX and Boeing for development of their rival rockets.
NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion combined to SpaceX and also Boeing for development of their rival rockets.