Nearly nine years after the last space shuttle flew, NASA and SpaceX are counting down to the next launch to put astronauts into orbit from Florida.
The launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will mark the first-ever use of a privately owned spaceship for a crewed orbital launch, and a renaissance for U.S. spaceflight.
“We are once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and this is a big moment in time,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a launch-eve briefing.
“This is a dream come true, for me and for everyone at SpaceX,” Elon Musk, the California-based company’s CEO, told a NASA interviewer as he waited for liftoff. “This is not something that I ever thought would actually happen. … It’s really hard to believe that this is real.”
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are due to ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s the same launch pad where the Apollo 11 crew began their journey to the moon, and where the first and the last space shuttle mission blasted off.