This week NASA and SpaceX came together to finally launch astronauts to space on the first crewed mission as part of the Commercial Crew Program. The United States has not launched its own astronauts to space on its own rockets since the final Shuttle launch in 2011, making this launch not only historic, but marking it as a new era of human spaceflight where private companies are involved.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made their way to orbit, and then the International Space Station onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from private space company, SpaceX. Their spacecraft, named Crew Dragon Endeavour by the pair, will be tested and monitored as part of the Demo flight.
The first launch attempt was scrubbed due to the weather, the mission lifted off on Saturday, May 30th at 2:22 pm CDT from Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s historic launch site in Florida.
After a positive weather review early in the day, the crew began preparing for flight, repeating the exact same routine they ran through on Wednesday. The launch countdown carried on, through the morning and early afternoon, without any technical issues. Rain and clouds moved through the area, but the improvement of weather conditions and the absence of lightning led to a go for weather conditions and the launch proceeded on schedule.
Both the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavour performed as expected through each stage of launch on its ascent into orbit. Once in orbit the crew coasted for 19 hours to reach the International Space Station.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was created in 2011, just before the final Shuttle Orbiter, Atlantis, launched from the very same spot- Launch Pad 39A. As part of the program, both SpaceX and Boeing are working with NASA to create vehicles and launch systems capable of launching crew to the International Space Station.
SpaceX beat Boeing to the launchpad with Crew Dragon Endeavour performing the company’s demonstration flight with a crew and a trip to Station for a yet to be determined amount of time.
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