SpaceX, on Sunday, sent two astronauts to the International Space Station or NASA, following up a notable takeoff with an equally smooth docking in yet another first for Elon Musk’s company.
The success knocked 18 years after Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. with the ultimate objective of inhabiting other planets.
The Dragon craft carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley entered the orbiting lab at 10:16 a.m. Eastern time, Sunday, about 19 hours after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX,” Hurley said after the docking while going through protocols required before the men could enter the station. “Their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible cannot go overstated.”
It was the first time a privately manufactured and acquired spacecraft delivered astronauts to the orbiting lab in its nearly 20 years. NASA deems this the opening volley in a business upheaval encompassing Earth and ultimately stretching to the moon and Mars.
People jammed surrounding beaches, bridges, and towns to gaze as SpaceX evolved as the world’s first private company to carry astronauts into orbit, and terminated a nine-year launch drought for NASA.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were among the major personalities who assembled with Musk to watch the scene. According to a pool report, Trump spoke with the two astronauts preliminary to the launch and, in a short discussion with reporters, referred to Musk a, none of the “great brains,”
NASA has yet to determine how long Hurley and Behnken will stay at the space station, somewhere between one and four months. While they’re there, the Dragon test pilots will enlist the one US and two Russian station residents in conducting experiments and conceivably spacewalks to install fresh station batteries.
After the launch, Musk told reporters that the capsule’s return will be riskier in some ways than its launch. Even so, receiving the two astronauts safely to orbit and then the space station had everyone breathing huge sighs of relief.