Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully launched two NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the Earth’s orbit sitting inside the Crew Dragon capsule sitting on top of Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:22 PM ET on Saturday.
Earlier the launch was planned for Wednesday, but it was scrubbed due to bad weather conditions.
It was the final and the most critical test for SpaceX that has been testing its launch system for a long time with the purpose of launching humans to space and beyond.
The full mission test is to successfully launch the Crew Dragon capsule (Spacecraft) to space and deploy it to the International Space Station carrying NASA astronauts, though it was noted as a test mission it marks history as the first flight to launch NASA Astronauts from the US soil since NASA’s Space Shuttle made its final flight on July 8th, 2011.
After Space Shuttles retirement NASA used to do crewed flights using the Russian Soyuz rocket that costs US about $80 million per seat.
This mission is aimed to end the United States’ reliance on Russia for crewed flights and also use it as a new form of business for NASA.
The mission is not complete yet as the two astronauts sitting inside the Crew Dragon capsule has to wait for the next 19 hours in the orbit before the crucial part of the mission to dock it on the Space Station, the Crew Dragon is designed to dock with the ISS automatically without the need for any input from the crew but the astronauts will try to fly it manually as part of the test before docking to the space station.
Docking with the International Space Station completed at around 10:29 AM ET (07:59 PM IST) on Sunday.
“Everything in our trajectory is towards that particular moment to launch people on a spaceship,” Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said during a press conference. “And it’s a huge step.”