Over the weekend, SpaceX made history as they launched two American astronauts into space, a historic mission nearly a decade in the making. The flight, known as Crew Dragon Demo-2, marks the first time that a private company has sent humans into orbit, and the first time in nearly a decade that the United States has launched astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil, with the space shuttle being retired in 2011.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center on May 30th at 3:22pm. The ship carried its new Crew Dragon spacecraft into space for the first time, with NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken headed for the International Space Station (ISS), successfully docking with the ISS on Sunday morning at 10:16am. The pair will stay aboard the ISS for four months.
“I’m really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it’s kind of hard to talk, frankly,” Elon Musk said in a post-launch press conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. “It’s been 18 years working towards this goal, so it’s hard to believe that it’s happened.” We never doubted Elon, as he and SpaceX have continued to push the boundaries.
So what’s next for SpaceX? According to its website, with this successful mission in the books, SpaceX will next set its sights on a manned Moon landing, then a mission to Mars. Needless to say, it’s a pretty exciting time for space geeks like myself. It’s great to see the United States back in the space race, even if it required a private company to do so!