At precisely 3:22pm ET, SpaceX's NASA Flight launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, marking the first NASA crew bound for orbit from the US in 9 years, heralding a new era in human spaceflight and forging a new landmark for NASA and Elon Musk.
Trump and Pence were both present at the lift off, which saw astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley separated from the rocket booster roughly 12 minutes into the flight.
NASA was live tweeting the launch:
Falcon 9 booster has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship! pic.twitter.com/96Nd3vsrT2— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 30, 2020
The Dragon capsule will next deliver Behnken and Hurley to the International Space Station - the first time American astronauts have flown from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. The launch comes 18 years after Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. with the ultimate goal of populating other planets.
The @SpaceX #CrewDragon launched at 3:22pm EST today with @Astro_Doug & @AstroBehnken onboard. It will dock to the space station Sunday about 2:27pm. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/pfTdcoVqiN pic.twitter.com/eQjpDUjeXQ— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) May 30, 2020
The biggest U.S. rocket launch in decades captured interest around the globe, coming at a time people clamored for good news amid the Covid-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty.
Watch the full take off here:
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Despite the threat of more thunderstorms, SpaceX and NASA are preparing for today's historic attempt to launch astronauts into space, via a private company. This comes several days after NASA "scrubbed" the first attempt due to weather-related issues and one day after SpaceX's Starship prototype blew up on a Texas launch pad.
NASA officials say today's Crew Dragon launch from Kennedy Space Center, located in Merritt Island, Florida, has around 50% odds for a 15:22 ET liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket:
"We are moving forward with the launch today," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted Saturday morning. "Weather challenges remain with a 50% chance of cancellation."
SpaceX and NASA administrators are carefully monitoring today's evolving weather situation around the launch site. As of 11:37 ET, there's a weather disturbance off the coast and could arrive inland around 14:00 to 16:00 ET, right around the time of launch.
At 7:51 ET, SpaceX tweeted "all systems go," along with an up-close photo of the Crew Dragon atop the Falcon 9 rocket.
All systems go for Crew Dragon’s test flight with @NASA astronauts @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug. Teams are keeping an eye on weather. Webcast will go live at ~11:00 a.m. EDT → https://t.co/bJFjLCilmc pic.twitter.com/AXDGNfqv0K— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 30, 2020
As per the Launch Mission Execution Forecast:
"On Sunday, the late season frontal boundary will provide some added cloudiness over the Spaceport early, but will likely push just south of the area by T-0. The primary weather concerns for launch are flight through precipitation, the thick cloud layer rule, and the cumulus cloud rule, associated with the frontal boundary," NASA's launch report said.
The report went on to say Sunday's launch window would be at 60% and 70% chance for Tuesday, suggesting more favorable odds of launching would be seen in the week ahead.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be on the Crew Dragon mission, which would be the first manned rocket launch from US soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will be in attendance at today's launch event.
Bridenstine tweeted, "Best selfie ever!" as he stands in front of Hurley and Behnken.
NASA will stream the launch event live on YouTube
Today's launch comes one day after SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype blew up on its test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. It doesn't produce a vote of confidence for the Crew Dragon launch.
Elon, your rocket just blew up. pic.twitter.com/EZAVN4cVCd— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 29, 2020
Last week, the morning before the first launch attempt, Elon Musk, the majority owner of SpaceX, holding about 54% of the private company, said: "I'm Chief Engineer of the thing. If it goes right, it's a credit to the SpaceX/NASA team. Goes wrong, it's my fault."