May 31, 2020 1 min, 35 secs
And so on Saturday afternoon, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had blue skies above it during the final minutes of a countdown to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

rocket now flying has launched as much as the Falcon 9 rocket.

But for the first time, the Falcon 9 rocket carried two humans on board, inside a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Success meant that NASA finally had its own access into space for astronauts.

When tensions between the United States and Russia in 2014, a senior Russian official who now heads the country's space program, Dmitry Rogozin, taunted NASA by suggesting the space agency use a trampoline to launch its astronauts.

But for the most part, Musk and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasized the uplifting nature of Saturday's successful launch at a time when the nation is divided, angry, and hurting.

Eight months ago, Bridenstine was frustrated with the amount of time SpaceX and Musk were spending on his Starship project.

Shortly before a major media event in South Texas, Bridenstine tweeted a message that effectively asked SpaceX to focus on commercial crew.

On Saturday, Ars asked Bridenstine if SpaceX had delivered.

"Since that day SpaceX and Elon have delivered on everything that NASA has asked them to deliver on, and at a speed that we never would have guessed," Bridenstine said.

As part of the commercial crew program, NASA has paid SpaceX a total of about $3.1 billion for development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, human-rating of the Falcon 9 rocket, and six operational missions to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Planetary Society found that, in developing Crew Dragon, NASA spent significantly less than it had on any of its sixth other crewed spacecraft to date.

In turn, for its speed and cost efficiency, SpaceX gets the prestige of joining the exclusive human spaceflight club, and access to NASA experts.

"NASA made us way better than we would have been," Musk said


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