The excitement level was high because SpaceX and NASA understand the significance of this test for crew flights-success here will allow astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to launch into space later this year or early in 2020 on a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
At 2:49 a.m. ET, the American aerospace company founded by Elon Musk staged its first launch of Crew Dragon.
NASA turned to private companies, SpaceX and Boeing, and has provided them $8 billion to build and operate crew capsules to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.
After the shuttle program was shuttered in 2011 after a 30-year run, NASA began outsourcing the logistics of its space missions. The craft will remain docked for five days before de-orbiting and splashing into the Atlantic at the end of next week.
Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russian Federation about $80 million per seat to send USA astronauts to space aboard Soyuz rockets - a fact that isn't very popular in the halls of Congress.
The SpaceX rocket took off this morning from Florida carrying only a test dummy.
Boeing is now scheduled to follow SpaceX's flight with an uncrewed test launch of its Starliner spacecraft as early as next month.
The SpaceX rocket launch marks the first time a commercially built spacecraft designed for human travel will dock with the International Space Station (ISS).
The space agency said in a statement last month that it has "confidence" the companies will be ready in 2019 and said the additional Soyuz contracts are meant to provide "flexibility and back-up" options. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat. If all goes according to plan, Starship and Super Heavy will launch a Japanese billionaire and numerous other passengers on a round-the-moon mission in 2023, and perhaps send the first people toward Mars a few years later. "And I'm pretty sure it's not just me, I think everybody within SpaceX feels this and wants to get this right".
From launch to splash landing, the mission is full of critical "firsts" for NASA's Commercial Crew program.
It features four seats, three windows, touch-screen computer displays and life-support equipment, as well as eight abort engines to pull the capsule to safety in the event of a launch emergency.
If successful, the mission launched on Saturday and the upcoming manned launch will allow NASA to certify the new spacecraft for regular flights to the space station.
Instead of solar wings, solar cells are on the spacecraft itself.
The Dragon vehicle, launched by California's SpaceX company on Saturday, is created to make the attachment autonomously.