SpaceX rocket blasts off, ‘new era’ of private spaceflight begins

SpaceX-Falcon-9-launch
Image Credit: http://spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com/p208064181/h1ec15bb6#ha97c4b8

SpaceX-Falcon-9-launch

After a failed launch Saturday, SpaceX successfully launched a private unmanned spaceship early this morning on a mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX hopes replace now-retired American Space Shuttles with missions to space. Eventually the private company hopes to send humans into space, but it’s starting by sending cargo to the ISS.

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off carrying a Dragon capsule at a 3:44 a.m. launch in Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA was enthusiastic about the launch and its prospects for the future.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden reportedly said in a speech at the launch site. “And while there is a lot of work ahead to successfully complete this mission, we are certainly off to good start.”

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said his 1,800 employees at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. watched the launch and were ecstatic.

“We had most of the company gathered around SpaceX Mission Control,” Musk said in a statement. “They are seeing the fruits of their labor and wondering if it is going to work. There is so much hope riding on that rocket. When it worked, and Dragon worked, and the solar arrays deployed, people saw their handiwork in space operating as it should. There was tremendous elation. For us it is like winning the Super Bowl.”

Watch the full video of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasting off below:

Photo credit: SpaceX