The SpaceX Dragon launch is significant because it’s the first time a commercial spacecraft was used by NASA to launch astronauts (not just supplies) into orbit – signifying a unique, unprecedented private/public partnership that NASA says sets the stage for future commercial flights in space.
It’s also the first time American astronauts have launched into space from American soil since 2011; the U.S. has launched astronauts into space from Kazakhstan, paying to use Russia’s space program.
Two astronauts, Doug Hurley & Robert Behnken, launched Saturday and docked with the International Space Station Sunday where they will stay for a period of 1-4 months before returning to Earth, also on the SpaceX spacecraft.
The creator of SpaceX, CEO Elon Musk, says the descent to Earth will be every bit as important as the launch: “I think it was an argument that the return is more dangerous in some ways than the ascent, so in order to declare victory yet, we need to bring them home safely [and] make sure that we’re doing everything we can to minimize that risk of reentry and return.”
Watch the launch: CLICK HERE
More from NASA: CLICK HERE
Space.com is a great resource for space-related news (Here’s Elon Musk): CLICK HERE
PEOPLE magazine write-up: HERE