Liftoff! The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Pad 39A at 3:22 p.m. EDT, kicking off a critical final flight test of the SpaceX crew transportation system. The commercial crew era has officially begun with this launch of American astronauts on an American spacecraft from American soil.
Control of the flight has been transferred from the SpaceX launch control team at Kennedy to the mission control team at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The nine Merlin engines on the Falcon rocket’s first stage are generating more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust as the vehicle climbs away from Florida’s Space Coast. At about one minute into the flight, the rocket will pass through Max Q, the point of peak mechanical stress on the rocket.