CAPE CANAVERAL, Fl. (CBS) — Two NASA astronauts tucked inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule made it to the International Space Station, marking a new era of space travel.
The Falcon 9 Rocket blasted off Saturday afternoon from the Kennedy Space Center.
It’s the first time a private company, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has launched astronauts in a commercially-built spacecraft.
Two veteran astronauts, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley, were on the 19-hour trip to the space station.
Weather conditions cleared as lift-off approached during the afternoon.
A first attempt was scrubbed Wednesday due to threat of lightning.
President Trump and Vice President Pence viewed the departure from the space center in Florida.
”You feel the shake over here, it’s pretty amazing,” Trump said. “A beautiful sight, a beautiful ship, too.”
And spectators lined up in nearby towns for front-and-center views.
NASA had asked people to watch from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The space agency retired the space shuttles in 2011.
Since then it has paid the Russian Space Agency to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
One idea behind the commercial space transport program is to use some of NASA’s budget for the goal of returning astronauts to the moon and eventually landing on Mars.