US President Donald Trump, witnessing the launch Saturday of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a historic first private crewed flight into space, said of the event: "It's incredible."
"This is just the beginning," he said. "It's really something special."
"Space will be one of the most important things we have ever done," Trump added, noting that "nobody does it like us."
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off smoothly to start its 19-hour voyage to the International Space Station.
It was the first crewed flight from US soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.