SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday in the historic first operational flight for SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The Falcon rocket took off Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule is set to reach the space station late Monday and remain there until the spring. The flight to the space station is 27 1/2 hours door to door. AP notes it will be entirely automated, but the crew can take control if needed.
These SpaceX trips are part of a years-long collaboration between NASA and the private firm in an attempt to facilitate launches to the International Space Station on American soil, rather than relying on Russia for these trips.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed viewers in a pre-launch news conference on Friday. "This is another historic moment - it seems like every time I come to Kennedy [Space Center] we're making history, and this is no different," he said.
He continued, "The history being made this time is we're launching what we call an operational flight to the International Space Station. The whole goal here is to commercialize our activities in low-Earth orbit."
He concluded, "NASA wants to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace for human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit."
According to the New York Times, the crew is set to arrive at the space station at around 11 pm ET on Monday, marking a 27-hour journey.
The astronauts on board include Michael S. Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Soichi Noguchi, and Victor Glover. Hopkins, Walker, and Glover are NASA astronauts, while Noguchi comes from JAXA, a Japanese space agency.
The initial launch time, set for Saturday, was postponed due to weather and engine troubles.
You can watch the launch and docking live on NASA's website.