The SpaceX Falcon 9, with Dragon crew capsule on top of the rocket, sits on Launch Pad 39-A, Friday, May 29, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The SpaceX Falcon 9, with Dragon crew capsule on top of the rocket, sits on Launch Pad 39-A, Friday, May 29, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

WATCH: SpaceX, NASA successfully launches two astronauts into space from US soil

By Joey Roulette Time of article published May 30, 2020

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CAPE CANAVERAL - SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched two Americans toward orbit from Florida on Saturday in a mission that marks the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from US soil in nine years.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT), launching Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour ride aboard the company's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule bound for the International Space Station.

The mission's first launch try on Wednesday was called off

with less than 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock due

to stormy weather around the Kennedy Space Center at Cape

Canaveral in Florida.

The forecast for Saturday was likewise precarious with a

50-50 chance of launch. Mission managers plan to make an earlier

decision on weather hazards in a bid to avoid unnecessarily

wearing out the crew with another suit-up and full day of launch

preparations.

"Back-to-back wet dress rehearsals" disrupt the astronauts'

sleep cycles, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told a Friday news

conference.

Barring weather or other unforeseen problems, the

24-story-tall SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is due to lift off at 3:22

p.m. EDT (19:22 GMT - 21:22pm CAT), propelling astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob

Behnken aloft on their 19-hour ride to the space station.

WATCH the launch live below: 

They will be carried there inside the newly-designed Crew

Dragon capsule, making its first flight into orbit with humans

aboard.

The launch pad is the same one used by NASA's final space

shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA

astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's

Soyuz spacecraft.

As the crew bid goodbye to their families before getting

into a specially-designed Tesla for the ride to the launch site,

Behnken told his young son, "Be good for mom. Make her life

easy.”

Bridenstine has said resuming launches of American

astronauts on American-made rockets from U.S. soil is the space

agency's top priority.

For Musk, the launch represents another milestone for the

reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less

costly and more frequent. And it would mark the first time

commercially developed space vehicles - owned and operated by a

private entity rather than NASA - have carried Americans into

orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a

brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the space

shuttle program.

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken wave as they exit the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on their way to Pad 39-A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, May 30, 2020. The two astronauts will fly on a SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station. For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts will blast into orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil, a first for a private company. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

If the mission is scrubbed again, the next launch window

would be Sunday afternoon.

Musk, the South African-born high-tech entrepreneur who made

his fortune in Silicon Valley, is also CEO of electric carmaker

and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc. He founded

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, formally known as Space

Exploration Technologies, in 2002.

Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, NASA employees under contract

to fly with SpaceX, are expected to remain at the space station

for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the

orbital laboratory.

Boeing Co, producing its own launch system in

competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100

Starliner vehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next

year. NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing

combined for development of their rival rockets.

In this image provided by NASA, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company's Dragon crew capsule onboard, is illuminated on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Despite more storms in the forecast, SpaceX pressed ahead Saturday in its historic attempt to launch astronauts for NASA, a first by a private company. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)

REUTERS 

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