SpaceX had its second launch ever on Sunday night with a four astronaut crew containing three Americans and one Japanese headed to the International Space Station.
The Falcon rocket launched at 7:27 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The 27 ½ hour flight to the space station has the crew reaching their destination late Monday night. The crew will be in space for six months before returning to earth.
With a year full of challenges, the Crew Dragon spacecraft was named Resilience by the crew.
“By working together through these difficult times, you’ve inspired the nation, the world, and in no small part the name of this incredible vehicle, Resilience,” Cmdr. Mike Hopkins said right before liftoff. After nine minutes, the crew reached orbit, and Hopkins radioed: “That was one heck of a ride.”
Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, was forced to watch virtually due to a positive test for COVID-19.
Vice President Mike Pence is the chairman of the National Space Council and watched the launch with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The first SpaceX launch was just a few months ago in a two-pilot test flight. NASA and the private company by Musk are working together in what is expected to be a long series of crew rotations between the U.S. and the space station.
With more science and research that will be done in space, the NASA goal remains to put humans on Mars around the year 2030.