SpaceX made history at 3:22:45 pm ET today: atop its Falcon 9 rocket was the Crew Dragon with American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on-board. It launched successfully from NASA Kennedy Space Center on the “space coast” of Florida. While there were concerns the launch would encounter a second weather delay, it was able to dodge nearby storms and showers for an on-time launch today. This is the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 that astronauts were lifted into space from American soil. It’s also the first time a private company, SpaceX, brought astronauts to space.
Now enroute to the International Space Station (ISS), Behnken and Hurley will begin their tasks in the Crew Dragon capsule in this demo mission of the Crew Dragon. After a successful demo flight, SpaceX would initiate regular service to the ISS upon the spacecraft’s passenger certification.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 30, 2020
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 space station. Behnken is no stranger to space; he was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010; he also performed three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has Bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. Before joining NASA, Behnken was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.
Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The journey to the International Space Station will take roughly 19 hours to complete. During the journey, NASA says the astronauts will sleep for 8 hours during the trip there. NASA will broadcast their docking live on NASA TV.