SpaceX founder Elon Musk has spoken out for the first time since his company's delayed launch on Wednesday afternoon. The eccentric entrepreneur was on the scene in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to watch the Crew Dragon capsule launch two astronauts from earth to the International Space Station. He did not betray any disappointment that the big event was delayed due to weather.
The Crew Dragon launch was delayed at the last minutes due to stormy conditions in the area. The delicate procedure required the utmost caution, but luckily contingencies were already in place. Musk shook off his disappointment to say that he will be ready on Saturday, May 30 for the rescheduled launch at 3:22 p.m. ET. Musk's response was a comment on a piece of art that would have been on-board the spacecraft, echoing the art's title by writing: "human kind."
human kind— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2020
It is well-known that space travel is more than a business venture for Musk — it is a passion project, which he sees as vital to the future of humankind. Musk is often criticized for his fixation on enterprises like this, though the cooperation of SpaceX and NASA in this case lent him a great deal of legitimacy. Not only was Wednesday to be the first time NASA has ever allowed a privately-built spacecraft to carry its trained astronauts — it would have been the first time American astronauts have gone into space at all in nearly a decade.
The Crew Dragon capsule launch — a mission named "Demo-2" — was the culmination of SpaceX's $2.6 billion contract with NASA, according to a report by CNN. NASA canceled its Space Shuttle Program in 2011, asking the private sector to take over the job of developing a new spacecraft. The agency hoped this would drive down costs and spur innovation, while NASA itself could focus more on exploration.
In addition to the SpaceX contract, NASA gave an even bigger $4.2 billion to Boeing for a spacecraft called Starliner. However, as Boeing tried to juggle this with commercial flights here on earth, it fell behind, especially due to the recent economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the meantime, NASA has been paying as much as $86 million per seat to send American astronauts to the International Space Station on Russian space shuttles. Getting a cheaper domestic option available here at home is a massive win for NASA, and could cause the American space program in general to excel forward faster than ever.
The Crew Dragon launch is rescheduled for Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. ET. Watch it live on most cable news networks or on the official NASA YouTube channel.