Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private company to launch two astronauts in space aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday.
SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket took off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center with veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the spacecraft.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, which started on its 19-hour voyage to the International Space Station, is expected to reach its destination soon on Sunday.
The milestone flight marked the first time that American astronauts have flown from US soil since the NASA’s space shuttle programme ended in 2011.
NASA in public-private partnership along with SpaceX launched USA’s first commercial flight into space.
“For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement.
“The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Benkhen and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,”it added.
This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX.
“It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen,” he added.