Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation has become the first private entity to successfully launch humans into space.
The launch at 3:22pm local time from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral was also the first time astronauts had been launched into orbit from the US, since the discontinuation of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The launch took place at 5:22am, May 31 AEST.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were inside the Crew Dragon capsule as it was lofted aboard a Falcon 9 launch vehicle for an anticipated rendezvous with the International Space Station.
Speaking to CBS News, Hurley described the launch relative to the space shuttle.
“Shuttle had solid rocket boosters, those burned very rough for the first two-and-a-half minutes. he first stage with Falcon 9 … was a much smoother ride,” he said.
“So the first stage engines shut off, and then it took some time between the booster separating and then the Merlin vacuum engine starting,” Hurley told CBS.
“At that point, we go from roughly three Gs (three times the normal force of gravity on the ground) to zero Gs for, I don’t know, a half a second probably, and then when that Merlin vacuum engine fires, then we start accelerating again.
“It got a little rougher with the Merlin vacuum engine, and it’ll be interesting to talk to the SpaceX folks to find out why it was a little bit rougher ride on second stage than it was for shuttle on those three main engines.”
Watch Hurley and Behnken give a tour of Crew Dragon below.
Australian launch company Gilmour Space told ABC Radio that the successful launch had inspired him and his team.
“It’s a big milestone as traditionally governments control putting people into space,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“This is the first time a private company has designed, developed, tested and launched people into space. It’s a huge deal as it shows that commercial companies can do what is deemed so hard by themselves.”
SpaceX has planned another launch planned from Cape Canaveral at Wednesday 9:25pm local time [11:45am Thursday June 4 AEST], hauling the next round of satellites for its Starlink constellation.
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