President Donald Trump hailed SpaceX’s epic first crew launch on May 30 as the dawn of a new era in spaceflight.
SpaceX’s Demo-2 test mission, which is carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
Demo-2 is the first orbital crewed mission to launch from the United States since the space shuttle retired in 2011. Today’s liftoff also marked the first time astronauts had flown aboard a new American spaceship since the space shuttle’s orbital debut back in 1981, a milestone that Trump noted.
“What Col. Douglas Hurley and Col. Robert Behnken did this afternoon was pure American genius and courage,” the president said during a post-launch speech at KSC today. “They joined the ranks of just seven prior American astronauts who have made the perilous maiden voyage to test a new class of spacecraft.”
Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to arrive at the orbiting lab tomorrow morning (May 31) and stay at the ISS for one to four months. (The duration of Demo-2 has yet to be determined.) If all goes well with their mission, Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 will be fully validated to fly operational crewed missions for NASA.
SpaceX holds a $2.6 billion deal with the space agency to conduct six such flights, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for late August. So, today marked a big step toward an exciting future, Trump said.
“Today, the groundbreaking partnership between NASA and SpaceX has given our nation the gift of an unmatched power — a state-of-the-art spaceship to put our astronauts into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. And it’s much better,” Trump said.