Making History: Nasa and SpaceX Launch Astronauts to Space

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The next chapter of American spaceflight is on — for now. NASA officials are monitoring weather conditions ahead of the scheduled 4:33 p.m., launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla.

The flight would mark the renewal of the United States’ ability to blast astronauts into space, something it has not been able to do since the space shuttle program was mothballed in 2011. Since then, Americans have relied rides on Russian spacecraft to reach the space station at a cost of $90 million per seat.

Astronauts Bob Benhken and Doug Hurley, retired military pilots and seasoned space aviators, donned their space suits at 1:15 p.m., and climbed into the Dragon capsule atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at historic launchpad 39A just before 2 o’clock.

Behnken and Hurley appeared to be in a cheery disposition. They emerged from a quarantine — a mandatory safety provision for space travelers — and were photographed shaking hands and smiling.

“Their demeanor is loose,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said. “They’re joking around, talking about what they had for breakfast and how it might come up later. They are in their element.”

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