After almost 10 years of hiatus, SpaceX and NASA made history by blasting off two US astronauts into orbit from American soil - and marked a milestone aimed at claiming the bragging rights for space supremacy by a private company and the government.
Saturday's epic launch -- from the same launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon at the height of the Cold War - marked America's determination and scientific capability in the midst of a global health crisis.
SpaceX's momentous feat sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on board the white-and-black, bullet-shaped Crew Dragon space vehicle using the same tried and tested Falcon 9 rocket. Referred to as the "Demo-2" -- the first manned mission since NASA's space shuttle program was terminated in 2011 -- the launch is the space project's qualifying phase in the human rating evaluation of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Falcon 9.
But, there is so much more than the awe-inspiring view of a rocket mightly blasting its way into the clouds and beyond: the spectacle -- upon completion of the mission, the launch vehicle will be officially granted clearance by the government to transport people to space.
The event also highlights the first time of the Elon-Musk space company that humans have been on board a SpaceX rocket as it blasted into orbit. So far, SpaceX's Falcon 9 and the more imposing Falcon Heavy rockets have made record-breaking achievements in delivering different types of cargoes to orbit, but Hurley and Behnken are the first humans to make the trip with the privately-owned space group.
Mission co-commander Doug Hurley, from the flight deck, after the Crew Dragon reached orbit, expressed his gratitude for the "first human ride" aboard the Falcon 9: "It was incredible... appreciate all the hard work and thanks for the great ride to space," he said, as reported by The Guardian.
President Donald Trump hailed the epic launch on Saturday, as the dawn of a new era in space exploration. "What Col. Douglas Hurley and Col. Robert Behnken did (today) was pure American genius and courage," he stated in a post-launch speech at the Kennedy Space Center, Saturday.
The two American astronauts are set to arrive at the ISS on May 31 and stay at the orbiting facility for one to four months. If all goes according to plan, Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 will be given full certification and authority to conduct operational manned missions for NASA.
SpaceX and NASA have a $2.6 billion deal to carry out six such missions, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for August this year. So, Saturday's successful launch highlighted a major leap forward an exciting future, Trump disclosed.