back to article They've only gone and bloody done it! NASA, SpaceX send two fellas off to the International Space Station

NASA has successfully launched two American astronauts aboard an American-made rocket from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade, sending them off toward the International Space Station. It also marks SpaceX's first launch of humans into orbit. Clad in white spacesuits and visors, Robert Behnken and Douglas …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Dancing Rodents!


  2. richardcox13


    The name is an homage to British science fiction author Iain M Banks' Culture series, in which he delighted in silly names for spaceships

    Be careful, you might suggest a lack of gravitas!

    1. CliveS

      Re: Naming

      Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall here, right now ;)

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Naming

        Experiencing A Significant GravitasGravity Shortfall here, right now ;)

        Reports one of the astronauts

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Naming

        Stood well back when they were handing out the gravitas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Naming

      This is the Reg here ... I'm certain that the level of gravitas is nominal

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: nominal

        I'm always bemused as to why NASA refers to telemetry/situations as "nominal", when "normal" would seem to be a more normal word to use? Or is this one of those instances where some words don't mean the same thing in American as they do in proper English?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: nominal

          > why NASA refers to telemetry/situations as "nominal", when "normal" would seem to be a more normal word to use

          Well, despite their apparent similitude, "nominal" and "normal" don't mean the same thing at all.

          "Nominal" means that a value is exactly as intended or expected, while "normal" only means it isn't totally abnormal. "Nominal" conveys the precise information that everything is going according to plan, while "normal" covers the whole gray zone, from "excellent" over "strange but tolerable", right up to the rocky shores of "Huston we've got a problem".

          1. Dave559 Silver badge

            Re: nominal

            Thanks for the explanation, which makes sense, although it does still seem a bit of an unusual usage of the word. I'm used to 'nominal' meaning "in name only", but I can see how it could also mean "as named/defined", although that is rather confusing, being almost an exactly opposite meaning.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: nominal

              > I'm used to 'nominal' meaning "in name only"

              The word (latin for "concerning a name") has indeed different meanings depending if you're a linguist or a mathematician. NASA uses it obviously in the engineer meaning of "matches the expected value".

    3. Killing Time

      Re: Naming

      'in which he delighted in silly names for spaceships'.

      I'm afraid not. IMB wasn't that lazy a writer. Given that the ships are sentient asexual lead characters in his novels, the names they choose are generally a function of their character, status or standing within the Culture.

      This leads to entities such as Sleeper Service, Shoot Them Later, Attitude Adjuster and the lead character in his last novel, Mistake Not..... Whose full name reveal is a high point within the story as you come to understand it's full capabilities.

      The names are an intrinsic part of the stories and have far more thought put into them than you suggest.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Naming

        He still delighted in the silliness though. For example in Excession there are lists of silly ship names. He wasn’t above a bit of pisstaking, as well as driving the plot.

        I can’t think of any of Banks' books that aren’t full of humour. It’s just that in the darker and more serious ones, the humour is distinctly blacker to match...

        1. Killing Time

          Re: Naming

          Granted, but my issue I suppose is the use of the word 'silly', it implies a lack of thought or foolish when it was anything but.

          Being a total fanboy of his writing I think it does his humour a disservice as the uninitiated may carry that view and pass up the opportunity to read a superb author. Not dissing the article but just think there are better descriptions that could have been used and probably would be if more people read his work rather than it being a subnote of Space X massive achievements.

  3. et tu, brute?


    ...spending almost 5 hours of my life to watch this.

    >>> to the people involved!

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Awesome...

      Only 2 hours of watching here due to other issues. But it was grand and excellent. Icing on the cake was hitting the landing of the booster. Adult beverages all around!!!!!!

      1. Solviva

        Re: Awesome...

        But did it really land? All we saw was an empty barge then 'loss of signal' followed by tada (AKA cut to the other barge that already had a rocket stationed on it!).

        /Tin foil hat off

        Congrats all round!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Awesome...

          Almost definitely an inflatable rocket. Meanwhile the real ones are landing in Elon's volcanic lair ready to redeploy!!!

    2. d3vy

      Re: Awesome...

      I was happy when my teenage son wanted to watch.... 6 hours watching on Saturday and then we were up at 7.15 to catch them waking up (we misheard what time it would be at so ended up two hours early) watched all day Sunday just to see them float through that hatch.

      Only turned off when Ted Cruz popped up to give his speech.

      1. et tu, brute?

        Re: Awesome...

        > Only turned off when Ted Cruz popped up to give his speech.

        So you left at the same time as I did!

  4. Robert Grant

    SpaceX CEO Elon Musk can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

    Probably not for the man shooting for the world record of "longest sustained adrenaline high". He may have already beaten the previous record by several million percent.

  5. swm


    Not only did the launch go perfectly but the main booster landed perfectly! Wow!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perfect

      ... suspicious loss of picture between empty barge and barge with landed booster for the conspiracy theorists to consider!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Perfect

        They had to edit out the part where Nessie surfaced surfaced alongside the barge and tried to mate with the booster. It took a few minutes for the sharks with frikkin' lasers to drive her away.

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Perfect

        "... suspicious loss of picture"

        That's due to interference with the comm link caused by the booster exhaust. Or a poor edit when they switch to the Playmobil model video.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Perfect

          The Earth landing is fake - Americans never landed on planet Earth

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Perfect

            Fake news! Of course they did. Intelligent life, on the other hand....

          2. Oliver Mayes

            Re: Perfect

            Pfft, you still believe in the Earth?

  6. LenG

    A Sense of Wonder

    Still gives me a thrill to see this sort of thing ... and the quality of the pictures was wonderful, but it didn't stop some brain dead conspiracy nut on the twitter feed saying he felt the loss of video as Stage 1 touched down on the barge was "very suspicious".

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: A Sense of Wonder

      There's always (at least) one, and when there is a fairly complete vid they turn round and say it must be faked.

      I was a teenager when they showed the moon landing. The improvement that have been made all-round since then are truly astonishing.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: A Sense of Wonder

        Better graphic editors now.

        /me hides

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: A Sense of Wonder

      > the loss of video as Stage 1 touched down on the barge was "very suspicious"

      It is actually a proof of truth. As anybody who has seen a blockbuster movie of the last decades can attest, nowadays it's extremely easy to convincingly fake about anything, especially heavy machinery interaction. So if SpaceX really had anything big to hide there, we'd be presented with a prepared in advance CG video. It's not like they don't have the time and money to commission some CG artist to create a convincing video, and have to rely on clumsy feed interruptions while Cthulhu plays with their landing barge.

  7. Chris G

    Congratulations to Musky and SpaceX. When you consider the number of firsts they have achieved (in spite of the occasional RUD) along with a lot of novel design and thinking, I think they all deserve a beer.

  8. Curly4

    Long Live Private interprise!

    But what is more important to remember SpaceX has done this at a much better than any state sponsored company could do it. The POWER of private enterprise having to compete for the contract!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Long Live Private interprise!

      Was NCC-1701 a public Enterprise?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Long Live Private interprise!

        Don't mind him, he's a Ferengi. The rest of us moved to a new world economy.

    2. fishman

      Re: Long Live Private interprise!

      And on the other hand you have Boeing's Starliner. It's cost per seat is higher than what the Russians were charging.

    3. mevets

      Re: Long Live Private interprise!

      I get the rah rah, but you can't really compare an original act with a derivative. Space Karen has done an impressive job running this through, but the pioneers bore the brunt of the effort.

  9. Sgt_Oddball

    Pretty little dot..

    Saw it earlier on it's way past. Had to explain to the wife what the bright white dot was and why it was moving so fast.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pretty little dot..

      Yes dear, its a Tesla. Its going *really* fast. The police are still trying to catch up with it to give it a ticket.....

      A pint if you can convince her that's the truth!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Pretty little dot..

      If they'd launched on Weds, I was hoping to see that too. But after a beautiful sunny day, it clouded over just enough that the moon was the only visible object in the sky. Today, I was able to watch the launch live but by the time there was a likelihood of the ISS and or the Dragon being overhead, the sun was still shining in another beautiful clear sky.

      There does seem to be some sort of higher power conspiring to hide anything interesting happening above our heads. Meteor shower? Cloudy. Eclipse? Cloudy. ISS? Cloudy. Our Great Lizard Overlords doing a flypast? Cloudy.

      1. fishman

        Re: Pretty little dot..

        It's the Illuminati - they don't want you to discover that the world is actually flat.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Pretty little dot..

      You say "had to" she says "insisted on"

      1. Sgt_Oddball

        Re: Pretty little dot..

        To be fair, we'd gone to the top floor window and then had to explain after spotting it that it was the spaceship and that it being white reflected the light hence why it was so bright.

        The kids though loved the dinosaur, especially since they've got the same one.

  10. Flip

    Good Day, eh?

    Bob and Doug. Canada salutes you!

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Good Day, eh?

      Wasn't there a Monty Python sketch with a Bob and Doug?

      Metropolitan Police Officers with a difference...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good Day, eh?

        SCTV (Second City TV) - Bob and Doug McKenzie host the Great White North. Have a beer, eh?

  11. Tom Paine


    Whoosh. Off they go. I'll leave it at that because I'm too old to be burning karma

  12. teknopaul Silver badge

    Hidden Figures

    A good time to (re)watch Hiden Figuers.

  13. RyokuMas


    "... it’s first launch attempt was aborted on Wednesday over the threat of lightning."

    Cowards. Apollo 12 didn't give a crap about lightning - just hit that SCE switch to the "AUX" position and you're golden!

  14. Mark192

    We're in the UK, 4000 miles from the launch site and watched the stream live with my 7 year old daughter. Didn't realise, until the photos popped up on social media, that we could have popped outside and seen it with our own eyes, speck-like, blasting into space.


  15. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Lift off

    Was it just me or did the rocket take off much faster than normal? Almost like an ICBM.

    1. Wenlocke

      Re: Lift off

      We remarked on this. I have a suspicion that it's largely due to how we expect space launches to go, since the vast majority of public perception is based on film of either Saturn V or the shuttle.

      Saturn V was 50odd years ago, so rocket tech has improved, and also stonkingly heavy (so takes more oomph to get going.)

      The Shuttle had to balance out different start up procedures and different axes of thrust between the main engines and the SRB's, each of which had entirely different thrust characteristics. The whole stack was also stonkingly heavy.

      There's footage of the Falcon Heavy launch where it takes a little longer between light-off and lift (albeit not much), but that involves the same engine types in the same plane so it's a lot simpler to work with.

      While I'm no means an expert, and you could probably find better explanations, it does just seem to be mostly down to the much lower weight and the much simpler, but more advanced engine setup and layout meaning it can go from zero to launch thrust much faster.

  16. BJarne Jensen

    How much?

    How does the Falcon 9 launch compare in $$ to the $86m russian rocket?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: How much?

      It's cheaper. About $60m new, $50m reused.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How much?

        Plus Russia able to regularly increase prices with the "so where else are you going to go" argument

      2. rg287

        Re: How much?

        $50-60m is the cost of a commercial launch on F9.

        Crew Dragon launching to ISS is ~$160m, because you have to pay for the payload (Crew Dragon) as well as the rocket. And man-rating carries a premium.

        So for Bob & Doug, that works out at $80m/seat. But in principle Crew Dragon can carry 7 (.vs Soyuz 3) which whittles the price down to $23m/seat - though it's unlikely NASA will actually launch 7 at a time due to available space on ISS. More like 3-4 with space for pressurised cargo/experiments.

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    cant land a rocket after its been in flight


    You cant land a rocket on a ship in mid ocean..

    You cant land 2 side boosters at the same time as landing a rocket on a ship in mid ocean.... (ok... maybe they just missed the last bit)

    You cant launch people into space for less than a gizzilion dollars a seat...

    Wonder what SpaceX are going to do next....

    Oh and the noise in the background was partly the Falcon 9 taking off , but mostly the sound of 10 000 boeing execs seething and grinding their teeth as they realise their pork barrel is being taken away from them....

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: You

      but mostly the sound of 10 000 boeing execs seething and grinding their teeth as they realise their pork barrel is being taken away from them....

      Not just their pork barrel but also illegal state subsidy.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: You

        Don't worry the government 'investment' in Boeing will be increased to cover the dental costs

    2. Grunchy Silver badge

      Re: You

      That reminds me of the time Rocketlab demonstrated how trivial it was to snag a rocket by its parachute. You know, the far cheaper and easier and more reliable option.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Clad in white spacesuits and visors"

    I totally came here to read about the colour of the spacesuit. Sadly it is not mentioned whether it matched with their flightbags.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "Clad in white spacesuits and visors"

      I totally came here to read about the colour of the spacesuit. Sadly it is not mentioned whether it matched with their flightbags.

      Off-camera there was a launch of the 'B-Dragon' containing the cleaning team. Was all-white on the night, and obviously would show up the dirt.. Which is a change from the old capsules that had a more steam-punk vibe to them. But then I guess there's less dirt in space, and being gleaming white, might make it easier to spot leaks/gunk that shouldn't be there. Suits didn't have sequins, unlike the stow-away crew Dragon..

      For me, also showed why the suits looked a bit odd down here in the gravity well. Up there, looks like they were pressurised & inflated.

  19. zxmar05

    If Hillary was president, we would have been on Mars by now!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Didn't realize shed be that bad

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very good and excellent, spectacular stuff. Congratulations to Space X are due, but did we REALLY have to have Mike Pence and The Great Impeached Orange twerp turning it into an election campaign event? I don't think I've ever heard so much b*llsh*t and toadying in all my life. Anyone would think that Trump had the launch completely sorted all by himself, from his droning, monotonous spiel, accompanied by his peculiar facial expressions, preceded by Pence sucking up with totally unfounded comments about Trump's "fine leadership that got us where we are today". Yeah, right - 100,000 + dead from Covid 19 due to Trump's dithering and incompetence! And just what has the statement: "We will have the finest weapons - I've seen the plans", got to do with the space flight? Typical Trump divergence. Never did see Musk - was he actually there? I literally had to hit the "off" button, as I really couldn't stand Trump's rhetoric, grand-standing and blatant jingoism. As soon as I heard he would be attending the event, I knew exactly what was coming. That man has NEVER been fit for the office of president and the sooner he is removed, the better.

    1. fishman

      The irony is that the whole Commercial Crew Program was started during the Obama administration - the contract that NASA has with SpaceX was signed in 2014, long before Trump came along.

      So,..... Thanks, Obama!

    2. RobThBay

      Trump should have been in the passenger seat of Elon's Tesla when it was launched.

      Luckily I was called away from my screen during the Stable Genius' appearance.

    3. devTrail

      You almost fooled me. I was taking seriously your comment, but then I noticed the covid BS. Trump killed nobody with covid because it is just a flu. Trump did absolutely nothing he just pretended to be on the side pf those who understood the scam to taint their message. Plus he let other people do the dirty work because he knew that the fascists curfews would have been unpopular.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Billy goats Gruff says get back under your bridge...

  21. devTrail

    What an achievement

    The flight also marks a momentous milestone for NASA for another reason, too; it’s the first time that the space agency has partnered with a private company to build everything from the touchscreen-driven capsule to the astronaut’s swanky spacesuits.

    What a step. The more space exploration will go on the bigger the chunk of public spending going on the pockets of the oligarchs will be.

    The collaboration with Elon Musk's SpaceX promises a cheaper alternative,

    Cheaper because it is compared to 30 years old technologies, but what has been developed by SpaceX is nothing more that the prosecution of NASA projects carried on by ex-NASA employees.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: What an achievement

      but what has been developed by SpaceX is nothing more that the prosecution of NASA projects carried on by ex-NASA employees.

      Correct, but somehow NASA itself failed to do so rather spectacularly.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What an achievement

        By that argument NASA was nothing more than Nazi projects continued by ex-Nazi employees

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: What an achievement

          > Nazi projects

          Well, to be fair, the Nazis never had the intention to go to space. It's von Braun who wanted to go to space, and opportunistically invented the ballistic missile to get the huge funding he needed to perfect his rocket engines from "works occasionally" to "almost reliable".

          So the continuation of the actual Nazi project was the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's ICBMs, not NACA/NASA's space rockets. NACA was initially created during WWI as an agency supposed to do aeronautical research (improve planes). When space became an issue in the 50ies, it seemed logical to give that task to NACA, which was renamed NASA.

          Politically motivated changes from national priority to annoying afterthought explain why its efficiency has varied a lot since its creation... Yet, many of NASA's critics don't know (or chose to forget) the amount of stuff NASA has helped inventing or perfecting (obviously in the domain of aeronautics, but not only). There is a Wikipedia page listing some of that.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: What an achievement

            There is an excellent talk by a wonderfully tweedy British history of science guy about this period before Nasa.

            The 'Germans of a certain political hue' were ensconced in Huntsville Alabama - whether this was to keep the project secret, to keep them away from bumping into any famous Jewish scientists at major universities or because they would feel at home in Alabama is a discussion point.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: What an achievement

              > The 'Germans of a certain political hue'

              Haven't met them obviously, but I think they mostly were opportunists rather than political fanatics (there might have been some exceptions though). Anyway, as often in those situations, you had to be in The Party (whichever it is) to be eligible for any interesting job, or able to get funding.

              As for them landing in Huntsville Alabama, I think this is where the Army Ballistic Missile Agency was located (Redstone Arsenal?), and ABMA was the agency needing their know-how.

  22. a_yank_lurker

    Good Job

    Great to see this mission start successfully.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pictures or it didn't

    ... oh

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Bob and Doug

    Sporting the latest incarnation of 1980's BMX Bandit clothing

  25. Joe W Silver badge


    Between the "launch america" logo and that of "emporio Armani" (if you squint a bit). Or maybe that's the beer..

  26. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Kudos to the guys

    Nice to hear that final 'docking is complete'.

    It seems, though, that NASA is a little overwhelmed: has been mostly out to lunch for the last six hours or so... which is a shame, as I'd like to give a little wave when it flies over next time!

  27. Stuart Halliday

    Almost accident free

    Did anyone else notice that the blond SpaceX Astronaut bumped his head and had to be handed a tissue to stop the bleeding?

    1. Julz

      Re: Almost accident free

      Should have been wearing a storm troopers suit...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Almost accident free

        Then they would have totally missed the ISS

  28. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    ///postponed because of high collision probability with Musk's Starlink space litter constellation

  29. Unicornpiss

    Bob and Doug..

    Bob and Doug (McKenzie) Take off! It's a beauty way to go..

  30. codemonkey

    Learned all they know...

    from LOHAN...

  31. osxtra

    Bottom's Up

    I wonder if they were able to bring a cold one for the ride.

  32. Grunchy Silver badge

    America finally launched a rocket!

    Big whoopy ding!

    Also: America landed plenty of rockets on top of their thrusters, in the 1960s, on the MOON.

    Colour me a little underwhelmed...

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