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LIFTOFF!: NASA launches SpaceX Astronauts into orbit from US soil for the first time in a decade

NASA launches SpaceX Astronauts into orbit from US soil for the first time in a decadeNASA launches SpaceX Astronauts into orbit from US soil for the first time in a decade
Highlights

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket just lit its engines, and astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are now soaring into the upper atmosphere

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday successfully took off from Kennedy Space Center for the International Space Station (ISS), with two NASA astronauts -- Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

The spacecraft is the first to take the American astronauts to orbit from American soil in nearly a decade and took off at 3:22 pm Eastern Time (ET). The mission marks the first flight of NASA crews from the US soil since 2011 and the first launch of a rocket owned by SpaceX, the commercial space company founded by Elon Musk.

US President Donald Trump was present at the Kennedy Space Center to view the rocket launch.

Minutes before the launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that the weather at Florida's Kennedy Space Center looked good for launching US astronauts to the ISS. "Weather is a GO for launch!" the space agency's chief tweeted.

On Wednesday, the planned launch was called off due to bad weather.

NASA has assigned Hurley and Behnken -- two of its most experienced astronauts.

Behnken is the joint operations commander for the Demo-2 mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights.

Hurley is the spacecraft commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. (ANI)

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