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Ad Astra! After the manned Demo-2 launch was scrubbed on Wednesday due to poor weather conditions, SpaceX and NASA were successful in their second attempt at sending astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station aboard a commercially produced rocket (the Falcon 9) and capsule (Crew Dragon).
"Every single nut and bolt on that spacecraft and these rockets was sweated over by a human being making sure that it was right and correct. And the fact that those guys are now in orbit is a testament to the dedication of all those people. It's really thrilling," Adam Savage said on Discovery's Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space.
Behnken and Hurley are expected to dock with the ISS by tomorrow morning. As astronaut Cady Coleman wrote on Twitter, getting to space is not the longest part of the mission ... it's the "parallel parking."
You can check out SpaceX's livestream of the launch below:
The mission (which launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida) is a major scientific test that makes history in two ways. The first benchmark is the fact that this is the first time in almost 10 years that astronauts have been sent into Earth's orbit from American soil. The second milestone carries even greater implications for the future of human space travel. If the mission is a total success, and it's not over until the astronauts reach the ISS, then the government can begin turning over launch responsibilities to the private sector. That opens up the door for an airline-like industry of trips to space, which paves the way for our species to start colonizing the cosmos.
"The commercialization effort means we want everybody to be able to fly into space," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a small Q&A with NASA Communications member Derrol Nail.
"We want to establish a commercial environment in low Earth orbit, so we can focus on the hard job of exploring beyond our home planet," added Bob Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center. "To establish that presence in our solar system beyond planet Earth; establish a sustained presence on the moon, get to Mars [and] establish a presence there. We can't do that if we're locked here in low Earth orbit. And commercial crew, with both SpaceX and Boeing, that's the beginning of a whole new era of spaceflight."
The weather conditions were looking a bit iffy today, but the 50-50 odds didn't end up putting a damper on the liftoff.
"What got us last time was the electricity in the atmosphere and, of course, today, there are, in fact, buildups," Bridenstine told Nail. "It doesn't look like there are thunderstorms at this time, but they are expected. The question is: 'When do those thunderstorms go away and when do those thunderstorms materialize, where are they located?' ... Given the fact that we are in late May in Florida, we have to take every shot we can get. It's not likely that in a couple of days it's gonna be any better than it is today, so we are a go for launch right now and we are hoping that the weather will hold up ... The trend is better today than it was on Wednesday."
"I am there with you guys in spirit. Bob, Doug ... good luck," Star Trek's OG Captain Kirk said. "I know you’ll be fine. I’ll be watching and got everything crossed: arms, legs, I’m tied in a knot. Can’t wait for you to get back safely."
"For us at The Planetary Society, more rockets means more exploration. More people in space means more exploration. More countries involved in the endeavor of spaceflight means more exploration," Nye added. "This is how we know the cosmos and our place within it. So congratulations, SpaceX, here's wishing your team, and the crew especially, a safe journey and the joy of discovery. Let's go!"