NEW
NASA Scrubbing Launch Due to Unfavorable Weather Conditions

Update:

As of just after 1:00pm PT/4:00pm ET, NASA announced they will not be launching today. Weather conditions aren’t favorable. They will try again on Saturday, May 30, at 3:22pm ET.

Original post:

For the first time in nearly a decade, American astronauts will be launched into space from American soil. The launch sends NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley into orbit, and on their way to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch not only stands as America’s return to taxiing astronauts to the ISS, but also the first crewed mission for the private aerospace company, SpaceX.

The launch, dubbed Demo-2, takes place at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida. The rocket delivering Behnken and Hurley into orbit takes off from the Space Center’s iconic Launch Complex 39 (LC-39). LC-39 was originally built as the Apollo program’s “Moonport,” but was later modified for NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

The goal of Demo-2 was to perform the first crewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Demo-2 also stands as the first successful mission undertaken by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is a human spaceflight program funded by the U.S. government and administered by NASA. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to utilize private vendors to build and operate crew vehicles that can carry U.S. astronauts to and from the ISS.

The Crew Dragon (shown below), heads into orbit atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which is the company’s current, reusable, orbital-class rocket. The mission utilized SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block Five, which is the latest iteration of the two-stage rocket.

American astronauts launched from American soil into space for the first time in almost a decade.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. NASA 

Moving forward, there will likely be a lot more American astronauts sent to the ISS from American soil. Now that Crew Dragon has been certified by NASA for long-duration missions to the ISS, the space agency says it will use the vessel to continue its research and technology investigations aboard the space station; research that NASA says is laying the groundwork for its Artemis program aimed at sending the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024.

On top of aiding NASA with its scientific research and Artemis Moon missions, SpaceX will also try to bring about numerous other, major space exploration milestones in the (relatively) near future. The private aerospace company is developing a new, far larger reusable rocket, dubbed Starship, which it hopes to use as a means for sending people to the Moon and even Mars. And there is, of course, Musk’s overarching vision of one day building a colony on the Red Planet.

What do you think about this seminal launch of American astronauts into space from American soil? Are you ready to take a ride to the ISS yourself?! Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Feature image: SpaceX / NASA