SpaceX launched two astronauts into space, a historic first

The SpaceX rocket successfully launched with two astronauts on board on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the very first manned flight by a private company. 

A historic moment for the conquest of space. The SpaceX rocket successfully launched two NASA astronauts on board Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the first manned flight by a private company, a feat only achieved by states so far. Founded by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX is the first private company to be entrusted by NASA with such a prestigious and risky mission. The two astronauts are now scheduled to join the International Space Station by Sunday.

The SpaceX rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Direction the International Space Station

This manned flight is the first made by the United States in 9 years and the end of the space shuttles. Small hot spot fading into the sky, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley found themselves propelled in ten minutes 200 km above the oceans, spinning at 20 times the speed of sound towards the International Space Station they should catch up with Sunday if all goes well. “Congratulations […] on this first manned trip for Falcon 9, it was incredible,” said astronaut Doug Hurley, captain of the spacecraft, filmed along with his teammate by a camera on board.

As bad weather threatened to cause a further postponement, the SpaceX-built rocket near Los Angeles took off safely at 3:22 p.m. (7:22 p.m. GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center. Tens of thousands of people were settled along the beaches in the area. Donald Trump had come to witness in person what NASA calls the dawn of a new space era. “Real geniuses, nobody does that like us,” he said from an observation platform.

Less costly access to space

The mission may seem like a modest step in space exploration: “Bob” and “Doug” will neither go to the Moon nor to Mars, only in the old space station, 400 km from Earth, where Russians and Americans and others have come and gone since 1998. NASA, however, sees it as a “revolution” because SpaceX will give the United States access to space cheaper than its previous programs. For the three billion granted since 2011, SpaceX has fully developed a new space taxi and promised its client six round trips to the ISS.

“Elon Musk has brought to the US space program the vision and inspiration we have been missing for 9 years, since the end of the space shuttles,” Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine said on Friday. “It’s a dream come true, I never thought it would ever happen,” said Elon Musk this week.