President Donald Trump is hailing the successful launch of SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft as an epic win for American spaceflight.
"We've got NASA 'rocking' again. Great activity and success," Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday. "Congrats to SPACEX and all!"
"A new generation of space flight starts now with the arrival of @SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the @Space_Station," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter today. "Congratulations to all for this historic achievement getting us closer to flying American Astronauts on American rockets."
SpaceX's Crew Dragon test flight, called Demo-1, is a critical demonstration to show that the vehicle is ready to fly astronauts for NASA under the agency's Commercial Crew program. In 2014, the NASA program awarded more than $6 billion in contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to develop new crewed spacecraft for astronauts. SpaceX received $2.6 billion in that funding round, while Boeing received $4.2 billion to support its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
SpaceX Demo-1 mission is the first of those new commercial crew vehicles to fly. Boeing aims to launch its first uncrewed Starliner test flight in April. Both companies will launch in-flight abort system tests of their vehicles before flying astronauts on them later this year.
Trump isn't the only one in his administration excited about SpaceX's Crew Dragon flight. Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, touted the launch's success just after its dazzling predawn liftoff.
"Under @POTUS' leadership, we are leading in space again," Pence wrote on Twitter, referring to Trump. "Congrats to @NASA & @SpaceX for today’s successful launch of the #CrewDragon spacecraft — taking us one step closer to launching American astronauts to space from American soil on American-made rockets."
Trump has signed four space policy directives to date, with the first directing NASA to return astronauts to the moon. The other three are aimed at streamlining commercial space regulations, addressing space traffic and orbital debris issues and establishing a military Space Force branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon mission will remained docked at the International Space Station through Friday (March 8), when it is scheduled to depart and return to Earth. The spacecraft will splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the eastern coast of Florida, and be retrieved by a SpaceX recovery ship.
Visit Space.com this week for complete coverage of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-1 mission.
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