It’s a sight no one has seen in nearly a decade: A rocket carrying NASA astronauts launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
But Ivan Vagner, a Russian cosmonaut and one of three humans currently living on board the International Space Station, caught the sight of just that with the milestone Demo-2 flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying two NASA astronauts. The pair will arrive at the orbiting laboratory tomorrow (May 31) to begin a stay lasting between one and four months.
You can watch the Demo-2 mission live here and on Space.com’s homepage, courtesy of NASA TV, through docking.
Vagner also captured images of the Demo-2 mission’s rocket and capsule on the launch pad both yesterday and just two minutes before launch today.
Behnken and Hurley underwent a scrubbed launch attempt on Wednesday (May 27), when bad weather conditions forced the NASA and SpaceX teams to delay. Weather threatened today’s launch as well, but the pair donned their suits anyway, just in case the launch could take place. And by late in the countdown clock, the weather had cleared.
At 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT), the rocket fired and the SpaceX Crew Dragon headed to orbit. It was a milestone launch, the first launch of humans to orbit from a U.S. facility since 2011, when NASA’s space shuttles retired.
Now, Behnken and Hurley are making a 19-hour trek to the International Space Station, where they will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Vagner and his Russian colleague, Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been in orbit since April.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon will dock tomorrow (May 31) at about 10:29 a.m. EDT (1429 GMT), and the hatch will open a little more than two hours later.
Visit Space.com for complete coverage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight.