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SpaceX closer to launching NASA astronauts after blazing Falcon 9 test

The astronauts are thrilled with the Falcon 9 booster static fire test.

spacexfalcon9staticfire

This SpaceX booster test took place in Texas on Thursday.

SpaceX

There's something glorious about a good static fire test. A success means your rocket engines are ready to rumble and you're that much closer to touching space. SpaceX announced Thursday it had completed a static fire test of the Falcon 9 booster that will launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

The test took place in McGregor, Texas, at SpaceX's rocket development site. This Falcon 9 rocket booster is designed to help launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space inside a Crew Dragon capsule.   

The astronauts both congratulated SpaceX and expressed their excitement for the mission.

"Congratulations to the Team! @AstroBehnken and I are looking forward to that ride to orbit," Hurley tweeted.

"Really wish @Astro_Doug and I could have joined @SpaceX's McGregor team for this!" Behnken tweeted. "Huge step on the path to bringing human spaceflight back to @NASAKennedy and the Florida coast, we won't miss engine start next time!"

The clean static fire test is good news for SpaceX and NASA after a Crew Dragon capsule unexpectedly exploded during a ground test in Florida earlier this year. That setback delayed the planned 2019 launch of a crewed mission.

SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, pulled off a flawless uncrewed Dragon demonstration mission to the ISS in March. NASA hasn't set a new launch date for a Crew Dragon capsule with actual humans on board, but we're likely looking at 2020.

SpaceX and Boeing are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which is working to launch astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since the space shuttle era. NASA has been hitching rides on Russian spacecraft. As with most complicated space endeavors, there have been a series of delays as SpaceX and Boeing go through the development process.

We may still be months away from seeing astronauts take off from Florida once again, but the scenic view of SpaceX's Falcon 9 static fire test is a good sign.