KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (WWNY) - Doug Hurley, who has extensive ties to the Clayton area, is space bound after a successful launch Saturday afternoon.
The SpaceX rocket designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has lifted off, sending Hurley and fellow astronaut Bob Behnken on a history-making flight to the International Space Station.
Earlier this week, the flight into orbit was called off with 16 minutes to go in the countdown because of the danger of lightning.
Liftoff was rescheduled for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. After earlier concerns about the weather, it appeared by 3 PM that conditions were favorable for launching.
The spacecraft took off Saturday afternoon from the same launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, that was used during the Apollo missions to the moon a half-century ago.
The spacecraft was originally set to blast off Wednesday afternoon for the International Space Station, ushering in a new era in commercial spaceflight and putting NASA back in the business of launching astronauts from U.S. for the first time in nearly a decade. This launch was also the first one from a private vehicle, Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian rockets to carry astronauts to and from the space station.
Among those watching the historic launch from Cocoa Beach, Florida was Hurley’s north country native family. They say they couldn’t be more proud.
“Doug and Bob, they’re American heroes. And they’re moving our world, quality of life forward, and people look at them that way. And to make it happen from American soil, and American astronauts, and an American vehicle, that is really something to be proud of,” said Nanette Zipadelli & Natali Curtis, Hurley’s cousins.
Hurley and Behnken will spend about 19 hours in orbit before they catch up to the space station where they will be for a time between one and three months.