SpaceX Crew Dragon delivers two NASA astronauts to ISS

Nearly 24 hours after launching from Florida, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule took NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on Sunday, the first American manned flight to the ISS since 2011..

The crew of the space station greeted them aboard with hugs and handshakes..

Applause could be heard over the station’s communications line with the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas when the 49-year-old Bob Behnken and 53 year old Doug Hurley became the first American astronauts launched into orbit from the United States in the past decade.

«The whole world has seen this mission, we are so proud of what you did for our country and actually inspired the world», – the NASA administrator told the astronauts Jim Bridenstein by telephone from the MCC.

«It’s great that the United States is back to manned launches and we’re just thrilled to be aboard this magnificent facility.», – Hurley answered.

Saturday launch of SpaceX, the billionaire entrepreneur’s private rocket company Ilona Mask, was another milestone for the reusable rockets he pioneered to make space travel less expensive and more frequent.

This is the first time spacecraft – owned and operated by a private company, not NASA – have put Americans into orbit..

Behnken said he and Hurley were able to sleep for several hours during their 19-hour orbital flight, telling the administrator that «the first night is always a little difficult, but the Dragon is a great car, we flew well and had a great evening».

SpaceX Crew Dragon delivers two NASA astronauts to the ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off to the space station from Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 pm on Saturday. Shortly before the start, Hurley said: «SpaceX, we’re going to launch. Let’s light this candle», paraphrasing a famous comment made at the launch pad in 1961 Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut.

The Falcon 9 took off from the same launch pad that was used during the last launch of NASA’s space shuttle, piloted by Hurley in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to fly into orbit aboard a Russian spacecraft. «Union».

NASA last sent astronauts into space on a brand new spacecraft 40 years ago, at the start of the space shuttle launch program..

Boeing Co, which is developing its own launch system to compete with SpaceX, is expected to launch its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft with astronauts on board next year. NASA has provided SpaceX and Boeing with nearly $ 8 billion to develop their rival rockets.

Elon Musk is also the CEO of electric car and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc..

SpaceX Crew Dragon delivers two NASA astronauts to the ISS

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