A SpaceX Falcon 9, with two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, aboard the Dragon crew capsule, lifted off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Saturday, May 30, 2020, ushering in a new era of spaceflight.

The two Americans are on the SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station. For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts blasted towards orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil, the first one for a private company.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a crewed spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company and designed to fly astronauts on round trips to the International Space Station for NASA. 

SpaceX has been chosen by NASA as one of two companies (the other one was Boeing) to fly crewed missions to the space station in 2014.

The Crew Dragon is a crewed version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, an unmanned spacecraft that has been making cargo flights to the station for NASA since 2012. 

The Crew Dragon lit off ushered the industry in a new era of commercial space travel and put NASA back in the business of launching astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

NASA’s astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken lifted off at 3:22 p.m. from the same launch pad used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago and minutes later, they safely entered orbit.

Just before ignition Hurley said “Let’s light this candle,” the same words used by Alan Shepard who blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1961 aboard the Freedom 7.

The historic Crew Dragon launch is the first crewed launch from the United States to orbit since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. 

According to NBC12.

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