Florida: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying two veteran NASA astronauts lifted off on Saturday on the first ever crewed flight by a private company.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flame and smoke from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center for the 19-hour voyage to the orbiting space station.
The first booster stage of the rocket separated cleanly and landed upright on a barge off the Atlantic coast.
The second stage also separated smoothly, sending the astronauts in the Crew Dragon capsule on their way to the space station orbiting some 250 miles (450 kilometers) above the Earth.
President Donald Trump flew to Florida aboard Air Force One to watch the launch and described it as “really something special.”