Trump calls launch of the NASA/SpaceX rocket a 'beautiful sight'

SpaceX's Crew Dragon craft will be piloted by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and will link up with International Space Station (ISS). From this point onward, the Falcon 9's second stage continued to push the Crew Dragon into orbit while the first stage began the process of returning to the surface.

In this still image taken from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, takes flight Saturday.

Today's launch took place on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center after an aborted attempt this past Wednesday due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Since then, Nasa astronauts have had to hitch rides aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. It is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner with astronauts on board for the first time next year. And for the first time ever, it was on a spacecraft built by a private company, Elon Musk's SpaceX.

While this is not an easy moment in history, it might actually be the ideal time to launch a crewed mission to space, astronauts and space exploration experts say.

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"Back-to-back wet dress rehearsals" disrupt the astronauts' sleep cycles, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told a Friday news conference.

"This is a program that demonstrates the success when you have continuity of objective going from one administration to the next", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a recent pre-flight briefing.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV - another Musk product - Behnken pantomimed a hug of his six-year-old son, Theo, and said: "Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?"

Inside Kennedy Space Center, attendance was strictly limited because of the coronavirus, and the small crowd of a few thousand was a shadow of what it would have been without the threat of COVID-19.

Four minutes into launch, NASA declared that the mission had achieved main engine cutoff (MECO) and separation from the first stage.

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Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the ISS. Just as importantly, it'll be the first time in nine years that American astronauts will launch from US soil. "When you see a sight like that it's incredible", Trump said after liftoff. This would also provide a financial incentive for the private sector to develop new spacecraft that could be usedboth by NASA and by other paying customers. "I thought it was so important to be here today", Mr Trump said.

SpaceX has been launching cargo capsules to the space station since 2012.

Companies that received initial funding for developing spaceships that could serve as space taxis included Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launch Alliance.

The two astronauts onboard the Crew Dragon are Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, both veteran spacefarers with several missions under their belts.

After saying goodbye to their wives - both former astronauts - and children they will be driven to the launch pad in a white electric auto built by Tesla, one of Musk's other companies.

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"I think this is an inspiration for our country".

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