South African expat Elon Musk’s Space-X company and NASA made history with the first privately-owned and operated spacecraft launching two astronauts to space from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre on Saturday, 30 May 2020. The Dragon Endeavour, carrying astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley landed safely at the International Space Station (ISS) on 31 May.
NASA said: “They made it.” Ten million viewers around the world watched as the SpaceX rocket launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre. They arrived at 1.02pm ET on Sunday, making history, the first Americans to make the trip in over nine years.
Elon Musk, a former Pretoria High pupil has been one of the country’s most successful expats, founding game-changing companies like Space-X and electric motor car company Tesla.
For Elon Musk this is the “culmination of a dream”. He tweeted on Sunday: “Congratulations Bob & Doug on docking & hatch opening on @Space_Station”.
The last crewed launch took place in 2011 while the Space Shuttle program was still active, the historic launch marks the first time a private company launched humans into space to reach the International Space Station.
The successful launch was the final step towards NASA certification for SpaceX and will usher in future missions to send astronauts to the International Space Station.