Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to establish a few firsts today.
SpaceX Founder Elon Musk was nearly in tears after Falcon 9 rocket successfully lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board to the International Space Station (ISS).
Hurley the spacecraft commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery, was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights.
US President Donald Trump said "a new age of American ambition has now begun". This was the first launch from U.S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011. Pacific time. "Hard capture" occurred about 10 minutes later, with the capsule firmly attaching to the station via 12 latches to create an airtight seal between Crew Dragon and the space station.
Moments after the Dragon capsule made it into orbit the crew were given a message from the team on the ground.
The docking is another accomplishment for the Crew Dragon's first test flight with humans aboard. "Let's light this candle", paraphrasing the famous comment uttered on the launch pad in 1961 by Alan Shepard, the first American flown into space.
British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted his congratulations to the astronauts, saying: "What a great launch and congratulations @SpaceX on making history".
Aside from completing the most important United States launch in nearly a decade, SpaceX also managed to successfully land Falcon 9 Block 5 booster B1058 on drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), stationed several hundred miles down range in the Atlantic Ocean.
It will take Mr Behnken, 49, and Mr Hurley, 53, around 19 hours to reach the space station, where they will join the three other residents - Nasa's Chris Cassidy and Russia's Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
According to UKMail, there was a 50 percent chance Falcon 9 would not take off due to ominous clouds and lightning risks, but the weather cleared with just 45 minutes left on the clock countdown. Contrary to the usual NASA procedure, SpaceX fueled up the Falcon 9 after the two astronauts had already boarded the Dragon. The craft was built under NASA's Commercial Crew Program and was developed entirely by SpaceX.