SpaceX and NASA complete historic launch successfully

By Jackie Wattles, CNN Business

Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT) May 30, 2020
34 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:20 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Here's what's next for Crew Dragon

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

NASA and SpaceX will keep their livestream rolling at least until SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, dock with the International Space Station tomorrow.

Docking is scheduled for 10:27 am ET Sunday.

For now, Behnken and Hurley are biding their time on Crew Dragon, and making sure that the spacecraft's autonomous systems are functioning properly while the spacecraft slowly eases itself on a path to rendezvous with the ISS.

NASA will host a press conference at 6:30 pm ET.

3:59 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

An emotional webcast

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made it through one of the most dangerous portions of their journey: Getting from the launch pad into Earth's orbit.

The mission so far has gone flawlessly, and SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons, who frequently hosts SpaceX's mission webcasts, was visibly emotional in the moments after the spacecraft safely reached space.

"I can't believe it with my own eyes. I'm so grateful they're up there."
3:44 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Crew Dragon is free

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

The Crew Dragon capsule, carrying astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, is now flying free through Earth's orbit. The capsule uses tiny thrusters to stay oriented and help steer the spacecraft toward the International Space Station.

It's a slow and precise journey. Behnken and Hurley will spend about 19 hours in the spacecraft as climbs toward the ISS, where they're expected to dock around 10:30 am ET tomorrow.


3:38 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Approaching orbit

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

The rocket just hit "MECO" – or main engine cutoff. That means the 9 Merlin engines attached to the rocket's first-stage, the ones that give the initial thrust at liftoff, are done burning fuel for now.

The first-stage of the rocket then broke off from the second-stage rocket, which has its own massive engine optimized for blasting through space where the atmosphere is super thin.

The second-stage lit its engine, and it's now powering the Crew Dragon capsule to higher and higher speed.

It'll need to hit at least 17,000 miles per hour to reach "orbital velocity." That essentially means the spacecraft will be traveling so fast, at just the right angle, that it'll begin to continuously fall around the earth — otherwise known as orbiting.

3:34 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

LIFTOFF!: Astronauts launch toward orbit from US soil for the first time in a decade

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket just lit its engines, and astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are now soaring into the upper atmosphere.

Soon, the first-stage rocket booster will detach, and the second-stage of the rocket will light up its own engine — and that will accelerate Behnken and Hurley's capsule to orbital velocity.

No astronauts have made this journey after launching from the United States since NASA's Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011


4:25 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Astronauts say their goodbyes before liftoff

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

The astronauts on board Crew Dragon just shared a final exchange with mission control:

  • Mission control: "Know that we’re with you, have an amazing flight, and enjoy those views of our amazing planet."
  • Crew Dragon: "It is absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to put the United States back in the launch business. We’ll talk to you from orbit, thank you."

3:21 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Last steps to liftoff

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

SpaceX is almost done loading the fuel onto the rocket.

Not many checks or milestones remain before liftoff.

At Kennedy Space Center, the nerves are palpable at the press site.

After spending much of the day wondering if the weather would dash another day of preparations, the latest updates have given today's mission a new sense of reality.

The countdown clock has already passed the mark where it stopped at on Wednesday.

6:36 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

SpaceX chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell made her first appearance on the NASA-SpaceX webcast.

Shotwell, one of the first dozen employees to join the company, handles most of SpaceX's day-to-day operations.

"I stopped getting nervous for launches — today I'm nervous again. Stomach in throat."
3:22 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020

Weather isn't in the clear quite yet: 70% chance of liftoff

From CNN Business' Jackie Wattles

The "go/no-go" poll involves several check-ins among flight controllers, weather officials and mission control.

And during the first poll, which happened about 45 minutes left on the countdown clock, weather officials gave the answer everyone wanted to hear: The forecast is looking good right now.

But things can still change. If at any time, the weather shifts and violates some of the pre-set rules for conditions, the launch could be called off.

Officials will continue monitoring the weather closely until about a minute before liftoff, when the rocket's automated computers take over.

Hear more: