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Scenes of SpaceX launching NASA astronauts into orbit, moment by moment

It's the first time a SpaceX rocket carried humans. They rode inside the Crew Dragon capsule on the way to the International Space Station.

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Stephen Shankland
SpaceX Falcon 9 launch
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SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. The May 30 launch was the first US rocket launch with a crew since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 and SpaceX's first crewed mission ever. The mission is called Demo-2 since its primary purpose is to test out SpaceX's spacecraft.

Weather threatened to cause a second delay to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, but clouds cleared and the launch went ahead.
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket in the sky

Weather threatened to cause a second delay to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, but clouds cleared and the launch went ahead.

The mission succeeded in delivering SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. This image shows it minutes before docking.
3 of 14 NASA; Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Crew Dragon before docking

The mission succeeded in delivering SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. This image shows it minutes before docking.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch
4 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

The Falcon 9 begins ascending seconds after ignition. The Crew Dragon capsule, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station, is perched at the top of the rocket. It was the first crewed launch by a SpaceX rocket.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people spaced themselves apart using social distancing recommendations while witnessing the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.
5 of 14 Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Social distancing during SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people space themselves apart using social distancing recommendations while witnessing the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX Falcon 9 clears the tower
6 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 clears the tower

The Falcon 9 rocket clears the launch pad equipment at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts upward to propel the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit.
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SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts upward to propel the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit.

SpaceX Falcon 9 traveling fast
8 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 traveling fast

The Falcon 9 rocket, shown here from below, rises atop a plume of exhaust at 1 minute 50 seconds after launch. It's traveling at at 3,052 kilometers per hour at an elevation of 31.8 kilometers at this moment.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch
9 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

The mission has succeeded so far. Here, the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket falls away after separating from the Crew Dragon capsule 12 minutes after launch. The Crew Dragon has a 19-hour journey to higher orbit to bring astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch
10 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

SpaceX staff, each wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, monitor the launch of their Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule from the company headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Two halves of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
11 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Two halves of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

At right, the Falcon 9 main stage returns to Earth, where it landed on SpaceX's drone ship for later reuse. At left, the Merlin engine of the second stage of the rocket continues to burn to boost the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch
12 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

At left, the Falcon 9 main stage rests shortly after landing on SpaceX's drone ship, named Of Course I Still Love You. At right, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to mark the occasion inside the Crew Dragon capsule. They face the blue glow of several touch screens that are a major computing upgrade from earlier spacecraft. 

NASA's Mission Control for SpaceX launch
13 of 14 Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

NASA's Mission Control for SpaceX launch

NASA's Mission Control in Houston oversaw the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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14 of 14 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

SpaceX Crew Dragon launches atop Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. The May 30 launch was the first US rocket launch with a crew since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 and SpaceX's first crewed mission ever. The mission is called Demo-2 since its primary purpose is to test out SpaceX's spacecraft.

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