SpaceX to launch NASA’s first commercial mission with astronauts today

SpaceX is set to launch astronauts into space for the first time Wednesday in a historic mission for both NASA and Elon Musk’s rocket company.

The planned flight from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station will mark the first time that a commercial spacecraft has carried humans into orbit.

It will also be the first human launch from US soil since NASA ended its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

A successful flight would be a key milestone for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the space agency’s effort to create cost-effective space travel through partnerships with private companies. It would also be an important success for Musk and SpaceX, which have sought to develop reusable spacecraft and bring paying customers into space.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. Eastern time from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, where Apollo 11 started its journey to the moon in 1969. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be on board in the company’s Crew Dragon capsule.

“Now, rather than rusting away in the salt air, through our partnership with SpaceX, that pad is being used once again,” Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana reportedly said at a Tuesday briefing.

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