This illustration shows SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket (Picture: SpaceX via AP)

What is SpaceX as today's launch makes history?


The SpaceX ship Crew Dragon and its, erm, crew – astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken – are set to make history when they launch in a few short hours.

The two men are about to be the first human passengers on a commercial spacecraft.

They will fly the capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida later today, Wednesday, May 27.

The mission is known as Demo-2, and if it’s successful, Nasa will certify Crew Dragon for regular flights to and from the ISS.

As we wait for this history-making launch to take place, here’s what you need to know about the company SpaceX.

What is SpaceX?

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk and is run by the billionaire to this day.

The company signed a deal with Nasa to carry both astronauts and equipment up to the ISS.

In a history littered with global firsts, notably SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft in 2010, and it became the first private company to send an unmanned spacecraft to the ISS in 2012.

The US national space agency hasn’t launched astronauts on its own spacecraft since 2011 when their space shuttle program ended.

Human exploration programme manager at the UK Space Agency, Libby Jackson, said the work done by Nasa and SpaceX represents a ‘major milestone for the global space sector’.

She told the PA news agency: ‘We have been dependent on just a single way of getting to and from this amazing scientific laboratory we have up there.

‘To reinstate what we call dissimilar redundancy – a different way of getting to and from the space station – would be very significant for the future of the space station.’
Nasa astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, wearing SpaceX spacesuits (Picture:SpaceX)

The launch is set to happen at 1.33pm local time, which is 9.33pm in the UK.

In the event that the launch tonight needs to be postponed for any reason, SpaceX has reserved backup launch times at 12.22pm on Saturday, May 30 (8.22pm in the UK) or 12pm on Sunday, May 31 (8pm in the UK).

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