A rocket ship built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two Americans on Saturday, ushering in a new era in commercial space travel and putting the United States back in the business of launching astronauts into orbit from home soil for the first time in nearly a decade, the AP reports. NASA's Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode skyward aboard a white-and-black, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off at 3:22pm from the same launch pad used to send Apollo crews to the moon a half-century ago. Minutes later, they slipped safely into orbit. "Let's light this candle," Hurley said just before ignition, borrowing the historic words used by Alan Shepard on America's first human spaceflight, in 1961.
The two men are scheduled to arrive Sunday at the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, to join three crew members already there. After a stay of up to four months, they will come home with a Right Stuff-style splashdown at sea. The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the US over the case of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASA officials and others held out hope the flight would lift American spirits and show the world what the US can do. "We are back in the game. It's very satisfying," said Doug Marshburn, of Deltona, Fla., who shouted, "USA! USA!" as he watched the 260-foot rocket climb skyward.
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