For the first time in almost a decade a manned space expedition took off from American soil. It also marked the first time a private company launched astronauts into orbit. ,
The rocket and capsule that lofted them were built and operated not by NASA but SpaceX, the company founded by the billionaire Elon Musk to pursue his dream of sending colonists to Mars.
The Falcon 9 carried a Crew Dragon capsule, which was scheduled to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday morning.
Aboard are two veterans of the astronauts corps, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas O. Hurley. Each is married to another astronaut — Mr. Behnken to Megan McArthur and Mr. Hurley to Karen Nyberg. NASA selected the two men along with a group of their colleagues to be the first customers of space capsules built by private companies.