'We Have Liftoff': SpaceX Rocket Sends US Astronauts Into Space



Wednesday's countdown of the rocket and its bullet-shaped Dragon capsule was halted at just under 17 minutes because of the threat of lightning.

The first launch attempt was scrubbed on Wednesday due to bad weather, but went off without a hitch on Saturday afternoon, with an emotional team of NASA and SpaceX staff watching.

Forecasters had put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for the new liftoff of the 270-foot. In preparation for Wednesday's flight, SpaceX sent up a Dragon capsule with only a test dummy aboard past year, and it docked smoothly at the orbiting outpost on autopilot, then returned to Earth in a splashdown.

The launch is scheduled for 4:33 pm Eastern.

Ahead of the launch, space agency chief official Jim Bridenstine said he hoped it would inspire astonishment and lift the general public during the current health crisis.

"Let's light this candle", Hurley said just before ignition, borrowing the words used by Alan Shepard on America's first human spaceflight, in 1961. "We have done it". But as the world celebrated the historic partnership between NASA and SpaceX, many Flat Earth believers took to social media to challenge the launch footage streamed online.

By NASA's count, over 3 million viewers tuned in online.

NASA then started the commercial crew program in 2010 with a series of funded Space Act Agreement initiatives to SpaceX and other companies.

The project has experienced delays, explosions, and parachute problems - but even so, SpaceX has beaten its competitor, aerospace giant Boeing, to the punch. SpaceX's award was worth $2.6 billion.

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SpaceX and NASA "will continue monitoring liftoff and downrange weather as we step into the countdown", Bridenstine added. It would also be the first time in almost a decade that the United States launched astronauts into orbit from USA soil.

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon is set to make history today as the first private spacecraft to launch astronauts into Earth's orbit.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits at Launch Complex 39A.

That accident pushed back an in-flight abort test of the spacecraft, where the capsule separated from a Falcon 9 rocket in flight, to January.

The mission, known as Demo-2, is the final major test of SpaceX's human spaceflight system before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration certifies it to fly working missions to the space station.

Hurley, a 53-year-old retired Marine, and Behnken, 49, an Air Force colonel, are veterans of two space shuttle flights each. Behnken flew on the STS-123 shuttle mission in 2008 and STS-130 in 2010. He also spoke with the two NASA astronauts prior to takeoff. The two joined the commercial crew "cadre" of astronauts in 2015 to train on both the Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner vehicles, providing inputs from an astronaut's perspective for both companies.

Earlier today, Meteorologist A.J. Waterman reached out to Meteorologist Brian Cizek of the 45th Weather Squadron to discuss how weather affects rocket launches, and how the 45th Weather Squadron has a unique roll in the launch process.

"I think this is an inspiration for our country".

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are strapped in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. "I'm breathing a sigh of relief but I won't be celebrating until Bob and Doug are home safely".

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