SpaceX made history this weekend after the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, which marked the first time NASA has launched astronauts from US soil in nine years. The Falcon 9 – carrying Bob Behnken, 49, and Douglas Hurley, 53, took off on Saturday at 8.22pm UK time from the Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Following the launch, the Falcon 9’s chief engineer said: “On behalf of the entire launch team, thanks for flying with Falcon 9 today. We hope you enjoyed the ride and wish you a great mission.”
One of the crew replied: “Congratulations to you and the F9 team for the first human ride for Falcon 9 and it was incredible.
“Appreciate all the hard work and thanks for the great ride to space.”
British astronaut Tim Peake was among the thousands who tweeted their congratulations to the astronauts this weekend.
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He said: “What a great launch and congratulations SpaceX on making history.
“I loved watching the acceleration during the final minutes of launch – it’s a crazy, crazy feeling being hurled up to 27000kmh!”
US President Donald Trump also added his congratulations, saying “a new age of American ambition has now begun”.
He added: “Under Nasa’s Commercial Crew Programme, we will use rockets and spacecraft designed, built, owned and launched by private American companies at a fixed price for the American taxpayer.
“Today’s launch makes clear the commercial space industry is the future.”
WATCH THE SPACEX AND NASA LIVE CAM WEBCAST HERE:
The SpaceX launch on May 30 not only marked the NASA launch on US soil in nine year, but also saw Elon Musk’s firm became the first private company to send humans into orbit.
Speaking after the launch, the billionaire said he was “overcome with emotion” as his firm took the final steps towards getting certified by Nasa’s Commercial Crew Programme for long-term manned missions to space.
He said: “I think this is something that should really get people right in the heart – anyone who has a spirit of exploration.”
“I am really quite overcome with emotion – it’s kind of hard to talk really.
“It’s been 18 years working towards this goal. It’s really hard to believe that it’s happened.
“This is a craft made by humans, for humans, I think it’s something humanity should be proud about occurring on this day.”
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Behnken and Hurley are currently part way through their 19-hour journey to reach the ISS, where they are expected to dock at 3.29pm UK time today.
The duo, who both joined NASA in the 2000 intake, have also made their own history this weekend.
Almost two hours after the launch on Saturday, the pair become the first to pilot a spaceship using only touchscreen controls.
The Crew Dragon capsule has ditched the clunky maze of controls seen on retired craft like the Space Shuttle or Apollo missions.
Instead, the SpaceX ship just features three large touchscreen panels.
And you can watch the former pilots navigate the Dragon towards the ISS thanks to the NASa live cam, installed in the capsule.
How to watch SpaceX Crew Dragon live cam
The SpaceX and NASA crew are now some 12 hours into their journey to the ISS, as of 9am on Sunday, May 30.
But you can still watch live as the pair prepare to dock at the space station today.
The Demo-2 flight is being broadcast live online, courtesy of NASA and SpaceX.
You can watch the launch here on Express.co.uk in the embedded video player above.
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