After nearly a decade since the end of the Space Shuttle program – NASA is making a big comeback in partnership with SpaceX and revolutionizing the future of space exploration.
"Today represents really an important step in regaining that national capability of being able to launch our astronauts on a U.S. space craft from American soil," explains NASA Astronaut, Kjell Lindgren.
NASA hasn’t flown a “first flight” of an American vehicle since the space shuttle launch back in 1981.
"I remember that flight,” Lindgren said. “I was sitting in my second grade class and the teacher wheeled the television in and that flight is what really gave me the idea that becoming an astronaut is really a possibility."
That possibility became a reality for Lindgren flying his first mission back in 2015, spending 141 days on the International Space Station and completing two space walks.
"The ability to look down at the earth to find places where I’ve lived, where I have friends, the first view through my helmet visor as I did a space walk and then I think on top of all of those extraordinary experiences, one of my favorite memories was reuniting with my family," Lindgren said.
The launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft marks a new era of space travel and represents the culmination of a commercial and government partnership that will forever change space exploration.
"Our hope is that SpaceX then is able to continue to serve other customers, commercial customers, as we build a lower earth orbit economy,” Lindgren said. "We're doing science on the ISS to extend our presence in the solar system and to improve life back here on earth."
This new age of space travel will provide the opportunity - not only for astronauts to fly to and from the International Space Station - but also for others, like commercial astronauts and even private citizens to make their way into lower earth orbit as well.
"This opportunity today to see this vehicle launch from the space coast. To watch that rocket claw, it's way into lower earth orbit. It's going to be an amazing, exhilarating and inspirational event," Lindgren said.
This mission will also pave the wave for the next space journey -- the return to the moon and eventually exploration of Mars.