Donald Trump hails SpaceX's successful first man mission to space
New Delhi : As SpaceX became the first private company to lift off humans to space from earth, the US President Donald Trump showered praise for the successful mission that may end America's reliance on Russia to send astronauts to space.
SpaceX's Demo-2 test mission carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
This is the first time the US lifted astronauts to space from its own soil since the space shuttle retired in 2011.
"What Col. Douglas Hurley and Col. Robert Behnken did this afternoon was pure American genius and courage," the president said during a post-launch speech at KSC today. "They joined the ranks of just seven prior American astronauts who have made the perilous maiden voyage to test a new class of spacecraft."
The two astronauts will continue their journey in the orbit for almost one day before they will try to dock the capsule on International Space Station. If all goes well with their mission, Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 will be fully validated to fly operational crewed missions for NASA.
SpaceX holds a $2.6 billion deal with the space agency to conduct six such flights, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for late August. So, today marked a big step toward an exciting future, Trump said.
"Today, the groundbreaking partnership between NASA and SpaceX has given our nation the gift of an unmatched power — a state-of-the-art spaceship to put our astronauts into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. And it's much better," Trump said.
"From now on, the United States will leverage the fast-growing capabilities of our commercial sector and the finest pieces of real estate on Earth, which you need very badly, to send U.S. astronauts into space," he added. "Today's launch makes clear that the commercial space industry is the future."
Trump thanked "the incredible men and women of NASA" and SpaceX's 8,000 employees for their hard work to make today's success possible. And he singled out SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk for particular praise.
Musk "embodies the American ethos of big thinking and risk taking," the president said. "Congratulations, Elon."