America returns to manned spaceflight with launch of SpaceX Demo-2
History was made today as the United States launched the first crewed commercial mission into orbit. At 3:22 pm EDT, the SpaceX Demo-2 spacecraft carrying astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is now en route to the International Space Station where it will dock on May 31.
Today's launch came after the first planned mission start was scrubbed on Wednesday, when NASA concluded that an approaching storm front raised the risk of a lightning strike as well as rain and high winds. Though the weather has improved, a NASA spokesman said that there was still a 50/50 chance of a second delay.
However, today's launch went without any major technical problems as Demo-2's Crew Dragon capsule rose from the pad atop a Falcon 9 rocket, marking two historic events. It is the first crewed mission to launch from American soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, and the first ever crewed commercial mission to go into orbit.
If the mission is successful, SpaceX will begin flying regular missions to the ISS, ferrying astronauts and supplies back and forth from Earth, as well as carrying out private space missions.
The Demo-2 is now fully deployed and will spend the 19 hours since launch carrying out a series of orbital maneuvers to rendezvous with the space station. After docking, Behnken and Hurley will spend one to three months aboard the ISS before returning to Earth.
Watch NASA's launch recap below.