NASA and SpaceX have successfully launched astronauts from US soil for the first time in almost a decade.
Douglas Hurley and Robert Behken will now orbit the Earth for roughly 19 hours before docking with the International Space Station (ISS) at 3.29pm on Sunday.
The pair were accelerated to approximately 17,000mph (27,000kmph) – 22 times the speed of sound – and put on an intercept course with the ISS.
SpaceX’s part in the mission will last until the astronauts are safely returned home at some point between the end of June and September.
If their Crew Dragon capsule performs as expected when they splash down in the Atlantic, then NASA will fully certify the company for manned launches.
It had initially been scheduled for Wednesday but that launch was postponed just minutes before lift-off due to lightning risks.
Fortunately for space fans, Saturday’s launch went off without a hitch, with the weather growing clearer and clearer as the day grew on.
President Donald Trump flew down to Florida to observe the launch – the first president to watch a NASA lift-off since Bill Clinton.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket even landed successfully on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean just minutes after ferrying the astronauts into orbit.
America hasn’t had the ability to launch astronauts from its own soil since 8 July 2011, when the Space Shuttle programme was retired.
Bob Behken and Doug Hurley will now join the three current residents of the ISS, NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, all of whom were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by Russia’s space agency.
This Article firstly Publish on news.sky.com