The private rocket company SpaceX sent two NASA astronauts namely Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into orbit on Sunday (IST). This is the first of its kind pilot project by the US Space agency, which is seeking to explore a new business model for itself.
By collaborating with tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, NASA will be purchasing the ‘taxi’ service instead of owning the vehicles for its astronauts. NASA has also signed a similar contract with Boeing.
Watching his maiden project’s successful take-off left Elon Musk emotional as he told reporters, “I think this is something that should get people right in the heart, of anyone that has the spirit of exploration. And the US is the distillation of the spirit of exploration.”
US President Donald Trump too was present in Florida to watch the historic launch. He said, “Past leaders put the US at the mercy of foreign nations (Russia) to send our astronauts into orbit. Not anymore.”
— NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) May 30, 2020
This is the first time the US has sent its astronauts into space after a gap of nine years. Earlier, the weather forecast had cast doubts on the launch of the mission due to overcast conditions. However, on the day of the launch, the sky remained fairly clear, allowing NASA to carry out the launch successfully.
Trump added, “By 2024 our astronauts will return to the lunar surface to establish a permanent presence and a launching pad to Mars. And the first woman on the Moon will be an American woman.”
“By 2024 our astronauts will return to the lunar surface to establish a permanent presence and a launching pad to Mars. And the first woman on the Moon will be an American woman.” – @POTUS on humanity’s return to the Moon with our #Artemis program. pic.twitter.com/VeoHFtkrHr
— NASA (@NASA) May 30, 2020
The two astronauts later sent a video message from space.
Welcome aboard the @SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft!
In this video from space, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug reveal the name of their capsule: Endeavour. Take a look inside as the crew continues their journey to the @Space_Station: https://t.co/K9S5mejONx pic.twitter.com/mvH8UhE5FW
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
Both the astronauts successfully docked at International Space Station on Sunday afternoon (IST).