With their historic mission on Saturday, May 30th, streamed live on Manufacturing Talk Radio, SpaceX has seemingly kicked off a new era for American spaceflight. Now, the company is already preparing for their future flights and plans.
At 3:22 p.m. on May 30th, the Elon Musk-led company launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit. The successful launch was the first time SpaceX had attempted any kind of crewed mission. Making use of the Flacon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, the astronauts launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and later docked successfully with the International Space Station.
For NASA, this marks the first time that they have launched their own astronauts since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Previously, the agency had to pay Russia up to $80 million per astronaut for flights to the International Space Station. NASA deputy administrator Jim Morhard claimed that the launch marked the “dawn of a new age” for American space ventures. Bob Behnken proclaimed that the flight was “incredible” and “a great ride” shortly after he and Hurley made it into orbit.
The launch also marks a high point for SpaceX, which was founded by Musk back in 2002. Musk has stated before that the informal motto for the company is “making humanity a multi-planetary species.” While they have conducted many launches before this, the launch on Saturday was the first time they have put a human into space.
On top of successfully getting the pair of astronauts to the International Space Station, the Falcon 9 rocket booster was also able to properly land and be recovered. A major selling point for the company has been their recoverable and reusable boosters, which have been landed 45 times.
Still, even with the success, SpaceX is not content to rest on their laurels. On Thursday, they also performed another successful launch consisting of 60 Starlink satellites. While the success is sure to cause its chief competitor Boeing to increase its own efforts, it also bodes well for the company’s plans to eventually establish private space travel options.