SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station today, becoming the first company to send humans to orbit on a commercial spaceship.
The Falcon 9 rocket's liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:22 p.m. ET (12:22 p.m. PT) marked a feat that America hadn't been able to perform since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011: launching American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil.
Update: Today's launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon was postponed until May 30 due to concerns about the weather.
Mission managers have cleared the final paperwork for SpaceX's first-ever crewed launch, aimed at sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The stage is now set for the first NASA mission to send humans into orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.
NASA and SpaceX put astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and the rest of the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida through a "dry dress rehearsal" in preparation for next week's historic launch to the International Space Station.
- The simulated countdown covered all of the steps on the timeline for sending the two astronauts on the first-ever crewed trip into space aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon, up to the point of loading propellants into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A. Hurley and Behnken rode to the pad in a NASA-branded Tesla Model X SUV — which is a cross-promotional touch for billionaire Elon Musk, who serves as CEO for Tesla as well as SpaceX.
- Such rehearsals have been part of the routine for NASA's crewed space launches, going back to the early days of the space race. But this time, every step in the timeline is getting heightened attention due to the fact that it's been nearly nine years since NASA has launched people into orbit.
Liftoff is currently scheduled for 4:33 p.m. ET (1:33 p.m. PT) Wednesday, with President Donald Trump and other VIPs in attendance. However, the latest weather forecast puts the chances of acceptable weather at only 40%. If the launch has to be delayed, the next opportunity comes on May 30.