“We made history,” NASA commented on his Twitter profile, while US President Donald Trump, present at the launch with his deputy Mike Pence, called what happened “incredible” and promised that “it’s just the beginning” .
The two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley (53 years old) and Bob Behnken (49 years old), are now headed to the International Space Station (ISS), 450 kilometers from Earth, with the mission called Demo-2: the hook is expected after about 20 hours. On board the ISS, the two NASA veterans – who will remain there for a maximum period of four months – will find the American Chris Cassidy and the Russians Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Hurley and Behnken had never been launched together before.
The way to launch the spacecraft
Until the end the departure is uncertain, due to the bad weather conditions, which on Wednesday had already forced to abort the first launch attempt.
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 30, 2020
In the end, thanks to a slight improvement during the available window, it was decided for the ‘go’ and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket came off the Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39A, which also has a highly symbolic: from here the Apollo missions headed for the Moon and those of the Space Shuttle with which the ISS was built.
The mission to be a highly celebratory moment of US successes and the Trump administration, but instead started in the midst of the coronavirus crisis (which killed over 100 thousand people in the United States) and the wave of violent protests for the killing of the African American George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
“Maybe this is an opportunity for America to take a break, look up and see a bright moment of hope on what the future could be like, on the fact that the United States of America can do extraordinary things even in difficult moments “said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine before launch.
A launch from the US hasn’t happened since 2011
President Trump also arrived on Air Force One in Florida. “Incredible”, was his first comment, “true genius, nobody does it like us, this is only the beginning”, he added warning that the American successes in Space will be “one of the most important things we have ever done “.
The US thus returns its astronauts from American soil to orbit after almost 10 years, since the Shuttle program retired in 2011, giving Moscow the monopoly on the launch of man into space.
In the past nine years, astronauts of all nationalities have always departed from the Russian cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. The visionary Musk’s SpaceX becomes the first private company to send astronauts to Space: the Demo-2 mission also represents the final flight test before NASA certifies the Crew Dragon capsule for regular crewed missions.
NASA hopes to rely on commercial partners in its work to bring man back to the moon in a few years and then to Mars from 2030.