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Kent reacts to launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

Nasa and SpaceX made history today when they launched astronauts into space from the US for the first time in nine years.

Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on a rocket and capsule system built by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s firm -the first private company to send humans into space, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel.

It is not yet known if people in Kent will be able to see the rocket in orbit, but it is hoped there might be chance for a glimpse at around 10.15pm.

The astronauts were due to lift off on Wednesday, but the mission was aborted less than 17 minutes before launch time over concerns that the event could trigger lightning.

Some 10 million people around the world were watching the momentous launch, streamed live by Nasa.

Among those was MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat.

He tweeted to say: "This is awesome. I’m watching with my six-year old son."

Chatham and Aylesford's MP, Tracey Crouch, posted: "It was one of those moments when the word awesome can be used correctly...#SpaceX"

Meanwhile, Rev David Green of St Mary's Church in West Malling, tweeted: "I know we have problems, big ones. I know I give the US a hard time often... but thanks for the reminder of how amazing humanity can be."

Since ending its Space Shuttle programme in 2011, Nasa has depended on Russia’s space agency Roscosmos to transport its astronauts to the space station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon before launch was cancelled on May 27. Image credit: NASA TV
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon before launch was cancelled on May 27. Image credit: NASA TV

In 2014, Nasa awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts to provide crewed launch services to the space station as part of its Commercial Crew Programme.

According to Nasa, the aim of the Demo-2 mission is to show SpaceX’s ability to ferry astronauts to the space station and back safely.

It is the final major step required by SpaceX’s astronaut carrier, the Crew Dragon, to get certified by Nasa’s Commercial Crew Programme for more long-term manned missions to space.

To read more about SpaceX's most recent spectacle after a chain of lights appeared in the sky, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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