SpaceX has just made history with what was perhaps one of the most pivotal rocket launches in U.S. space travel. In the early hours of Saturday morning, the private rocket company fired up its Falcon 9 workhorse to launch its new-generation astronaut pod into orbit, NASA proudly announced in a news release.
Famously known as the Crew Dragon, this is the first commercial-built spacecraft designed to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). At the same time, SpaceX's Crew Dragon is the first U.S.-built pod intended for human travel to launch from American soil since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, today's launch served as the first test-flight of the Crew Dragon capsule. Dubbed the Demo-1 mission, or DM-1, the launch sent the astronaut pod on its inaugural spaceflight in order to demonstrate the capabilities of its systems. Since this was the first-ever test of the Crew Dragon, the capsule soared to the skies unmanned in a bid to test out its endurance and safety protocols before being boarded by astronauts for its second spaceflight, Demo-2.
The spacecraft and its rocket carrier blasted off from the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same launch pad that saw NASA's space shuttles take off to the ISS and the mighty Saturn V rocket ferry astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions.
Packed with its precious cargo, the Falcon 9 lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST amid the cheers of a sizeable crowd gathered to watch the Crew Dragon take off on its maiden voyage. The SpaceX rocket and capsule blasted off into space in a ball of fire and smoke, taking to the skies with a brilliant flash of light.