On Monday, SpaceX and NASA made history, successfully launching a four-member team to the International Space Station. The blastoff also marked the end of nearly a decade of international reliance on Russia for rides on its Soyuz rockets. The launch event was attended by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife as well as NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"This is a great day for the United States of America, and a great day for Japan, and we look forward to many more years of a great partnership... all the way to the Moon," said Bridenstine after the successful Crew-1 launch.
The team consisting of Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japan's Soichi Noguchi blasted off at 7:27 pm (0027 GMT Monday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They are expected to reach the international space station in a few hours.
"Crew Dragon has separated from Falcon 9’s second stage and is on its way to the International Space_Station for its first operational mission! Autonomous docking tomorrow at approximately 11:00 p.m. EST" the SpaceX Twitter handle shared on Monday morning.
The launch comes comes just three months after a pair of NASA test pilots successfully concluded SpaceX's first occupied flight of a Dragon crew capsule. It also marked only the second time in nearly a decade that astronauts were set to rocket into orbit from the US.
The launch of Resilience - named in light of the all the challenges in 2020 - comes even as SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk disclosed via Twitter that he "most likely" has a moderate case of coronavirus, despite mixed test results. With NASA policy making it necessary for him to quarantine, an upbeat Musk took to Twitter with updates about the launch.
Amid the many congratulatory tweets and comments, was one by President Donald Trump. However this particular post has irked many on social media who perceived it as being 'self-congratulatory'.
"A great launch! @NASA was a closed up disaster when we took over. Now it is again the “hottest”, most advanced, space center in the world, by far!" he tweeted.