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Watch live: NASA astronauts on way to space station in SpaceX capsule

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NASA and SpaceX ended a nine-year absence of human spaceflight from U. S. soil Saturday when two astronauts lifted off toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
ORLANDO, Fla., May 30 (UPI) — NASA and SpaceX ended a nine-year absence of human spaceflight from U. S. soil Saturday when two astronauts lifted off toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
The 3:22 p.m. EDT launch, under overcast skies, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida marked the first time since the final space shuttle mission in 2011 that NASA astronauts didn’t have to rely on Russia to get into space.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in comments earlier this week, called the launch a beacon of hope to a nation troubled by the COVID-19 pandemic and social strife, much in the same way the Apollo moon program boosted the nation’s morale.
The successful launch began a 19-hour journey for astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who are to dock with the International Space Station. It also is a final test for the Crew Dragon space capsule made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
SpaceX confirmed the capsule successfully reached orbit, and separated from the second stage booster. The first-stage rocket booster landed successfully on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
“It was incredible. Appreciate all the hard work and thanks for the great ride into space,” Behnken said over the communication link to ground crews.
Bridenstine said he’d been praying for the astronauts and their families at liftoff.
“I’ve felt that rumble before, but it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got your own team on that rocket,” Bridenstine said. “And they are our team, they are America’s team…. This is everything that America has to offer in its purest form.”
Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence returned for the launch after Wednesday’s postponement.
In a speech at the space center’s Vehicle Assembly Building after the launch, President Donald Trump called for an end to violence following the death of Minnesotan George Floyd during an arrest Monday.
He then praised NASA and SpaceX for recent advances, as well as plans to return to the moon and eventually Mars.
“Today as we mark a new commitment to an American future in space — a tremendous commitment it is — let us all commit to a brighter future for all our citizens right here on Earth,” Trump said.

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