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Astronauts ring Nasdaq opening bell from space after historic SpaceX launch

It's not every day you see astronauts in space open Nasdaq trading in New York City's Times Square.

Three NASA astronauts rang in the opening of Nasdaq trading from the International Space Station Tuesday (June 2) to celebrate the historic flight of SpaceX's first crewed Dragon spacecraft over the weekend. The event, which connected the astronauts to the Nasdaq in Times Square via video link, was broadcast on a giant screen in the famed New York City landmark.

Space station commander Chris Cassidy used the ship's bell on the orbiting lab to start the day's trading. Joining him were astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who launched into space on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Saturday (May 30). 

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy appear on Nasdaq’s large television screen above Times Square in New York on June 2, 2020. (Image credit: Nasdaq/Rohini Shahriar)

The SpaceX Crew Dragon flight, called Demo-2, marked the first U.S. orbital launch of astronauts from American soil since NASA's space shuttle fleet retired in July 2011. Behnken and Hurley spent 19 hours chasing the station on their Dragon ship, which they christened "Endeavour" after the NASA shuttle, before arriving at the space station on Sunday.

"We think that the more people that get to fly to space, the better off we'll be as a species," Hurley said in the video just before the bell-ringing. "It's really transformational when you come into space, look back at our planet and see how fragile it is, and see how thin the atmosphere is. It really does change you for the better."

Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman lauded Behnken and Hurley for their SpaceX flight success. Their mission was not just the first U.S.-based orbital human spaceflight since 2011, but the world's first orbital launch of astronauts on a commercial spacecraft

"It is truly a pivotal moment in the development of the space economy and a new era of private human spaceflight," Friedman said. 

Founded by billionaire Elon Musk in 2002, the Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX builds, launches and reuses commercial rockets carrying satellites, robotic cargo ships and, now, astronauts. SpaceX has been flying uncrewed cargo ships to the station for NASA since 2012. 

SpaceX has a $2.6 billion NASA contract for at least six crewed mission to the station. It is one of two companies (Boeing is the other) with NASA contracts to fly astronauts to the space station. Boeing's first crewed flight is expected in 2021. 

"We're really at the dawn of a new space age," NASA deputy administrator Jim Morhard said during the Nasdaq ceremony. "We're expanding the economy in low Earth orbit."

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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