by Elizabeth Yang ’22
On Saturday, May 30th, SpaceX launched its historic astronaut flight, Crew Dragon Demo-2, also known as the Dragon Endeavor, from the Kennedy Space Center, marking the first time the United States sent astronauts into space since 2011. The Falcon 9 rocket sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Dragon 2 spacecraft.
Behnken and Hurley drove out to Launch Pad 39A, the same pad used for Apollo 11’s momentous trip to the Moon. Two hours before liftoff, the capsule hatch closed, and at 3:22 pm, Falcon 9 launched.
“I’m really quite overcome with emotion on this day,” Musk told reporters. “I’ve spent 18 years working toward this goal, so it’s hard to believe that it’s happened.”
On May 31st, the crew docked at the ISS.
SpaceX has become the first company to send passengers into orbit on a privately built rocket. Not only is this a tremendous accomplishment for them, but this is significant for NASA. Since retiring the Space Shuttle in 2011, the agency has had to rely on Russia to shuttle astronauts to space, costing up to $90 million per seat. This launch is undoubtedly a massive step towards a new era of space commercial flight and tourism.
SpaceX is an aerospace company that was founded in 2002 by engineer, entrepreneur, and industrial designer Elon Musk. Since its first successful orbit mission with Falcon 1 in 2008, SpaceX has made numerous meritorious achievements, including sending and retrieving the first privately developed spacecraft from low-Earth orbit in history, becoming the first company to send a Dragon to the ISS, and successfully landing Falcon 9 at Landing Zone 1 after delivering eleven communication satellites to orbit.