NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are flying a brand-new spacecraft to the world’s orbiting laboratory.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Photograph by Michael Seeley, National Geographic
By Nadia Drake, Nat Geo
Cape Canaveral, Florida - Against a backdrop of shifting clouds and patches of welcome blue sky, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 3:22 p.m. ET at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), warming the already sweltering, sticky air with blindingly bright rocket fire and sending tremors through the Florida coast. Strapped into a spacecraft atop the 229-foot-tall rocket, veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley soared into the sky, marking a triumphant return to orbit from U.S. shores.
“SpaceX, Dragon, we’re go for launch, let’s light this candle,” Hurley said to SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, just before liftoff.
Behnken and Hurley—occasionally referred to by their colleagues as Dr. Bob and Chunky—are now cruising to the International Space Station, a journey that will take approximately 19 hours. This flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is only the fifth time in history that U.S. astronauts have piloted a brand-new spacecraft into orbit. Read more >>