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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft
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Watch Elon Musk’s SpaceX send astronauts into space

‘We’re starting a new era when space is going to be available to more people than ever before’

Today (May 27), Elon Musk’s SpaceX will make history as it sends two NASA astronauts into space. The trip marks the American space agency’s first journey with a private company, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel – and you can watch it in real time.

Viewers can tune in to NASA’s YouTube channel or SpaceX’s website at 9:33pm BST (4:33pm ET) to see astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken get launched to the International Space Station from the Florida coast. Today’s launch will be the rocket’s first attempt, with backup opportunities happening on May 30 at 8:22pm BST (3:22pm ET) and May 31 at 8pm BST (3pm ET).

Dubbed Crew Dragon, the spacecraft is the first to be manned by Americans since NASA’s Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. Since then, the US has relied on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to take astronauts into space.

If successful, NASA hopes today’s trip will enable them to contract out all future crew transportation to the commercial sector. “We’re starting a new era in space,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the BBC. “It’s an era when space is going to be available to more people than ever before.”

“We envision a future where low-Earth orbit is entirely commercialised,” he continued, “where NASA is one customer among many customers, and where we have many providers competing on cost, innovation, and safety.”

SpaceX regularly sends satellites into orbit, but this is the first time the company is taking people into space. Viewers tuning into the lift-off will see the astronauts, in white pressure suits, driven to the pad in one of Musk’s electric cars. 

As well as sending astronauts into space, Musk is planning to bring the film industry above the atmosphere. Earlier this month, it emerged that the SpaceX CEO is pairing up with Tom Cruise and NASA to shoot an action adventure movie in outer space. In the meantime, he’s brought a slice of the cosmos to our homes with an online simulator that allows you to step inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Watch SpaceX and NASA launch astronauts into space here or here at 9:33pm BST (4:33pm ET) today (May 27)