NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley walk to the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft during a dress rehearsal. (AP)

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley walk to the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft during a dress rehearsal. (AP)

A SpaceX Falcon 9, with the astronauts in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (AP)

A SpaceX Falcon 9, with the astronauts in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (AP)

Commander Douglas Hurley (center) speaks about their mission to bring back the American flag left at the International Space Station nearly a decade ago. (AP)

Commander Douglas Hurley (center) speaks about their mission to bring back the American flag left at the International Space Station nearly a decade ago. (AP)

Tremor the stuffed dinosaur is traveling with the astronauts in the spacecraft. (Ty)

Tremor the stuffed dinosaur is traveling with the astronauts in the spacecraft. (Ty)

Friends in Flight

Posted: July 1, 2020

Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken wait quietly as the clock ticks down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their rocket and capsule point into the Florida sky. Three . . . Two . . . One . . . and America has launched!

The white rocket Falcon 9 soars up at 1,500 miles per hour. The Dragon capsule separates from the Falcon 9 rocket. Dragon reaches orbit and flies toward the International Space Station (ISS).

How’s the ride? Mr. Benhken says it’s surprisingly rough compared to a space shuttle.

People around the world watch the historic launch. It marks the first time a privately owned rocket ship with people inside makes it to outer space. It’s also the first time in nine years that American astronauts have departed from American soil in an American rocket.

These pilots are both old pros at flying to space. They’re both dads and fathers of young sons. And they’re even old buddies from astronaut school. When the pair make it into orbit, they give each other a space-gloved fist bump. And a shiny stuffed dinosaur named Tremor floats up beside them. This is a reason to celebrate. It means they’ve reached zero gravity!

The astronauts have 19 hours to go in their flight. They sleep eight of those hours so they’ll be in good shape to dock at the ISS. (Can you imagine falling asleep in that exciting situation?!)

Mr. Hurley, a retired Marine colonel, is in charge of launch and landing. Air Force colonel Mr. Behnken is a mechanical engineer. He has already taken six spacewalks. He oversees docking at the ISS about 220 miles above Earth.

Before launch, Mr. Behnken said he was thankful to be flying with Mr. Hurley. “He’s going to be prepared for whatever comes our way.”

Mr. Hurley, meanwhile, had this to say about Mr. Behnken: “He’s already got it all figured out, everything that we could possibly, potentially deal with.”

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. — Romans 12:10