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SpaceX launch reactions: 'Humanity needs hope,' George Takei says

The historic crewed launch of NASA astronauts from US soil lifts spirits. And a gravity-defying stuffed dino steals a heart or two.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft attached takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft attached takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NASA and SpaceX made history Saturday, launching astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since the space shuttle era wrapped up in 2011. It's also the first time a privately built spacecraft -- SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket -- has played cosmic taxi for astronauts. After a 19-hour ride, NASA 'nauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley reached the International Space Station 10 minutes ahead of schedule Sunday morning.

The world paid close attention to the high-profile happening, as evidenced by reactions on Twitter Saturday.

NASA, of course, had something to say, posting a TL;DR clip of the launch, along with the iconic and heart-stirring phrase "We have liftoff."

Other folks supplemented that visual with some nice images of their own. Here's a shot from Dublin, with a cameo by the moon, which seems to be wondering if it should start thinking about sprucing things up a bit for an eventual return of human visitors (perhaps a female this time):

A few NASA astronauts had something to say. Drew Morgan, who returned from the ISS in April (and appears to be a Star Wars fan) wished Behnken and Hurley "God speed." "Thinking especially of your families proudly waiting for your safe return," he wrote. 

And Christopher Ferguson, who helmed the final space shuttle mission, passed the baton to Hurley in a stately manner. 

Some fictional spacemen weighed in as well, namely Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Mr. Sulu, aka William Shatner and George Takei. "Humanity needs hope, and you have provided a much needed burst of it." Takei wrote. 

A science celeb or two offered congrats. Here're well wishes from Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye:

And the political class registered its approval, with US politicos on both sides of the aisle tweeting out responses. Here're posts from Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Adam Schiff, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden:

As for everyday Joes and Josephines, some couldn't help but think of the problems currently troubling their home planet -- the coronavirus pandemic among them:

"If you meet ET only touch his finger with a glove," wrote one Twitter user. 

Others, though, said the launch gave them, like Takei, a rocket-fueled lift and provided much-needed relief from the problems here on Earth. 

"The 10 year kid inside me who had once wanted to become an Astronaut had its own moments of goosebumps & joy today and kept screaming "Go Go Go!" wrote one member of the Twitterati:

Another referenced a stuffed-dino mascot aboard the Crew Dragon, saying, "Didn't realize how much I needed the SpaceX Dinosaur until he popped in view. My heart feels a little less heavy this afternoon."

Indeed, the dino-slash-zero-G-indicator (like its plushy-Earth predecessor) seemed to snag more than a few hearts, with the following gravity-defying GIF sent out a number of times.