SpaceX Rocket With 2 Astronauts Blasts Off In First Private Mission

 - Sakshi Post

In a historic first of a private space launch, a SpaceX rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying two veteran NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on Saturday. This marks the first ever crewed mission by a private firm, signaling the beginning of a new era in space voyage.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were on board the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket which blasted off in a picture-perfect launch. The historic space travel to the International Space Station will last 19 hours. The liftoff took place at exactly 3:22 pm (1922 GMT) from NASA’s renowned Launch Pad 39A soon after Hurley, the mission commander of the spacecraft, quipped “Let’s light this candle” in his communication to the SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne in California.

SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, is the first commercial company to send astronauts into orbit. Incidentally, SpaceX launch is the first to send American astronauts from the soil of the United States the space shuttle programme was stopped in 2011.

A visibly elated Elon Musk said, “This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” signifying the importance of the mission for his firm and also for the future space travel programmes by private entities. In the process, the latest mission, which is codenamed ‘Demo-2’, marks the end of an absolute monopoly of the government on space missions. This also happens to be the final test flight for the company before NASA formally certifies the Crew Dragon capsule of SpaceX for routine crewed missions in future.

The two astronauts, Hurley (53) and Behnken (49) are scheduled to dock with the ISS at 10:29 am (1429 GMT) on Sunday. The two are former military test pilots and joined NASA in the year 2000. They will be giving company to US astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner on board the ISS.

Following liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX announced that Crew Dragon had successfully entered low orbit around earth and was on the right trajectory to link up with the space station about 250 miles (450 kilometres) above the Earth.

As a testament to the successful launch, the reusable first booster stage of the Falcon 9 rocket separated smoothly about two and a half minutes after liftoff and landed perfectly on a floating barge off the Atlantic coast. Later, the second stage also separated as planned, without any hiccups.

The historic SpaceX mission launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was deferred to Saturday due to unsuitable weather conditions.

US President Donald trump flew down to Florida to personally witness the SpaceX launch. He later interacted with NASA and SpaceX employees. He heaped praise on SpaceX founder Elon Musk and remarked that it was a “special day” that displays a “renewed commitment to America’s future in space.”

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