(ORDO NEWS) — The rocket built by SpaceX launched today with two Americans, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel and returning NASA to launching astronauts from the United States for the first time in almost a decade.
Douglas Hurli and Robert Benken of NASA launched aboard the Dragon capsule on top of the Falcon-9 rocket, taking off from the same launch pad from which the Apollo astronauts traveled to the moon. The flight was delayed from Wednesday due to stormy weather in Florida.
“Let’s light this candle,” said Hurley, borrowing the words used by Alan Shepard in the first American space flight in 1961.
It is planned that two astronauts will arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday for up to four months, after which they will return to Earth.
“Perhaps America has the opportunity to stop, look up and see a bright, brilliant moment of hope for the future, that the United States of America can do unusual things even in difficult times,” said NASA administrator Jim Brydenstein before launch.
Thanks to a timely start at 10:22 p.m., SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, became the first private company to launch people into orbit – a feat previously achieved only by three governments: the US and Russia and China.
The flight also ended a nine-year drought for NASA, the longest break in its history. Since NASA decommissioned the space shuttle in 2011, the agency has used Russian spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan to deliver American astronauts to and from the space station.
In subsequent years, NASA commissioned the development and construction of its next-generation spacecraft to SpaceX and Boeing, signing contracts with them worth $ 7 billion as part of a public-private partnership aimed at reducing costs and stimulating innovation. The spacecraft Boeing and its capsule Starliner, do not plan to fly with astronauts until the beginning of 2021.
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