Four astronauts were successfully launched on the SpaceX Crew Dragon "Resilience" to the International Space Station on Sunday, the first of what the US hopes will be many routine missions following a successful test flight in late spring.
Three Americans -- Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker -- and Japan's Soichi Noguchi blasted off at 7:27 pm (0027 GMT Monday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, thus ending almost a decade of international reliance on Russia for rides on its Soyuz rockets.
US President-elect Joe Biden hailed the launch on Twitter as a "testament to the power of science and what we can accomplish by harnessing our innovation, ingenuity, and determination," while President Donald Trump called it "great."
Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the launch with his wife Karen, called it a "new era in human space exploration in America."
The Pences joined NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and his wife Michelle to watch the launch, clapping as the rocket lifted off.