Cape Canaveral, FloridaAgainst a backdrop of shifting clouds and patches of welcome blue sky, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 3:22 p.m. ET at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), warming the already sweltering, sticky air with blindingly bright rocket fire and sending tremors through the Florida coast. Strapped into a spacecraft atop the 229-foot-tall rocket, veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley soared into the sky, marking a triumphant return to orbit from U.S. shores.
“SpaceX, Dragon, we’re go for launch, let’s light this candle,” Hurley said to SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, just before liftoff.
Behnken and Hurley—occasionally referred to by their colleagues as Dr. Bob and Chunky—are now cruising to the International Space Station,