SpaceX capsule carrying astronauts docks with space station

In this still image taken from NASA TV NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley reach orbit on Saturday after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida

A spokesperson for Russia's space agency took a dig at the US after the successful launch of two USA astronauts aboard a SpaceX craft bound for the International Space Station (ISS)-while also describing President Donald Trump's praise of the successful mission as "hysteria".

Unlike the SpaceX and NASA flight control rooms, where everyone was spaced well apart, there was no social distancing or masks needed in orbit since the new arrivals had been in quarantine for many weeks.

The Dragon capsule was created to self-dock at the ISS.

Demo-2 astronaut Doug Hurley says goodbye to his family from inside the Tesla that transported him and his crewmate Bob Behnken to the launch pad, on May 30, 2020.

The objective of the trip is to complete the validation of human spaceflight operations for SpaceX hardware, which will pave the way for private companies to ferry astronauts to the ISS.

Saturday's launch was the first of American astronauts from U.S. soil since the mothballing of the United States shuttle program in 2011 that left Russia's more basic and reliable Soyuz spacecraft exclusively responsible for transporting crews.

In this still image taken from NASA TV, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (front) and Doug Hurley reach orbit on Saturday, after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While they're there, they'll join NASA's Chris Cassidy and two Russian station residents in performing experiments and possibly spacewalks to install fresh station batteries.

Yet that prospect seems unlikely, she added, given that "the US Congress refuses any space cooperation with China".

Behnken and Hurley spent years training and taking part in the development of the SpaceX crew transportation system prior to today's launch.

United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa al Mansouri, center, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir, top, members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), board the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft for the launch at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, September 25, 2019.

"It just might not be the same thing you'd want to use if you were suited up and trying to fly an entry or descent, for example, like we could do with the space shuttle", says Behnken. The updated cargo Dragon and Crew Dragon are created to work with the new automated system. He was the pilot of that last spaceship, shuttle Atlantis in July 2011.

"What a great day for NASA, what a great day for SpaceX, and what a great day for the United States of America", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We're going to partner with commercial industry".

The big picture: NASA hopes to continue working with private companies in the future in order to become a buyer of services in low-Earth orbit, opening up the agency to work on getting humans to the Moon and beyond. "We designed it to be two-fault tolerant, which means that any two things could fail, so I could lose a flight computer and a thruster and I could still bring the crew home safely". Both companies are focused on test missions, including abort system demonstrations and crew flight tests, ahead of regularly flying crew missions to the space station.



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