The early years of SpaceX staggered to survive, Musk has said. After three unsuccessful attempts to reach the orbit, SpaceX has made history with its Falcon 1 rocket. It is making history again as it defies expectations by carrying two NASA astronauts into space. A first after nine long years since the last shuttle, Atlantis landed on July 21, 2011.

Despite months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Elon Musk's SpaceX is given the green light to launch Crew Dragon by a Falcon 9 rocket toward the International Space Station, according to Phys.Org. United States President Donald Trump will be among the spectators to witness the launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At the same time, the public is advised to watch it via a live stream due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Under Barack Obama's period in office, the Commercial Crew program of NASA has begun which aimed to develop private spacecraft to transport American astronauts into space.

Reasserting American Domination

President Trump sees it as a symbol of his strategy to reassert American domination of space, both military and civilian. He has given NASA an unlikely timetable to return to the moon in 2024, which has given the storied space agency a boost.

Only spacecraft made by the USA and Russian space agencies have carried crews in the ISS since it was launched 22 years ago. NASA used the shuttle program to carry astronauts into space for almost three decades, which have cost the space agency a staggering cost of $200 billion for 135 flights, and two fatal accidents that finally put the program into an end.

After that, NASA astronauts had to learn Russian and traveled to ISS via Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan. But it was only meant to be a temporary arrangement as NASA has entrusted Boeing and upstart SpaceX the task of designing and building capsules that would replace the shuttles.

Finally, nine years have passed, and the SpaceX is ready to launch its first crewed flight from US soil on Wednesday.

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First Crewed Flight in Nine Years

SpaceX Falcon 9 is set to take off from Launch Pad 39A with the Crew Dragon capsule at its top at 4:33 pm (20:33GMT) on Wednesday, May 27. SpaceX was awarded more than $3 billion in contracts by NASA since 2011 to build the spacecraft.

Veteran space travelers Douglas Hurley, 53, also piloted Atlantis on its last trip and Robert Behnken, 49 is aboard Crew Dragon, which is expected to dock at the ISS nineteen hours later, where two Russians and an American are waiting for them.

But Cape Canaveral forecasters said that weather forecast remains unfavorable, with a 60 percent chance of adverse conditions. The next launch window is on May 30, this Saturday.

It has taken five years longer than its original plan for SpaceX to launch its spacecraft; nonetheless, it has beaten Boeing to the punch. The latter's Starliner's test flight failed because of serious software issues that need to be redone.

Despite the huge skepticism at first, the launch is indeed a success story to tell, said Scott Hubbard, former director of NASA's Ames Center in Silicon Valley who now teaches at Stanford, to AFP.

The crewed mission is important for Washington to break NASA's dependence on the Russians and to catalyze a private "low Earth orbit" market open to tourists and businesses.

"We envision a day in the future where we have a dozen space stations in low Earth orbit. All operated by commercial industry," said NASA boss Jim Bridenstine.

But Musk is aiming higher as he is building Starship, a huge rocket to circumnavigate the Moon or even travel Mars to make humanity a "multi-planet species."

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