President Trump, Vice President Pence view historic launch

A rocket ship built by Elon Musk's SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two Americans on Saturday, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew in for the launch attempt for the second time in four days.  

"I'm so proud of the people at NASA, all the people that worked together, public and private. When you see a sight like that it's incredible," Trump said after liftoff.  

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President Donald Trump points from the rooftop of the Operational Building at NASA before the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the rocket from the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020. (Phot

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Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.  

(L-R) Karen Pence, US Vice President Mike Pence and US President Donald Trump watch the SpaceX launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Inside Kennedy Space Center, attendance was strictly limited because of the coronavirus, and the small crowd of a few thousand was a shadow of what it would have been without the threat of COVID-19. By NASA's count, over 3 million viewers tuned in online.  

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Despite NASA's insistence that the public stay safe by staying home, spectators gathered along beaches and roads hours in advance.