NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (right) and Bob Behnken (second right) after boarding the International Space Station, where they were welcomed by fellow astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy (center) and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin (left) and Ivan Vagner (second left).
Applause could be heard from the station's downlink to mission control in Houston, Texas as Behnken, 49, and Hurley 53, became the first American astronauts launched to the station from U.S. soil in almost a decade.
The capsule spent 19 hours chasing down the station at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kph), before carefully aligning to its target and slowing to a crawl for the delicate docking procedure, which took place over northern China.
With test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken poised to take over manual control if necessary, the SpaceX Dragon capsule on Sunday pulled up to the station and docked automatically, no assistance needed.
"For the first time in nine years, we have now launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil".
Today's launch also marks the start of the commercial crew era of USA human spaceflight. An initial launch attempt was scrubbed on Wednesday as a result of bad weather.
Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan" also stood as a fitting track to wake up in space to, before the crew docked at the International Space Station, as the metal hit sports lines as: "We sail through endless skies / stars shine like eyes / the black night sighs".
SpaceX and NASA officials had held off on any celebrations until after Sunday morning's docking - and possibly not until the two astronauts are back on Earth sometime this summer.
"I have never seen a crew so calm and focused leading up to a launch as these two were", said NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester, who has lived with the Demo-2 crew in quarantine inside Kennedy Astronaut Crew Quarters for the past several days.
"The trampoline is working", quipped the 48-year-old USA entrepreneur at a post-flight news conference alongside NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
After the SpaceX launch, Trump delivered remarks at NASA's cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building with VIPs, launch team members and journalists in the audience.
The aim of the mission is to demonstrate SpaceX's ability to ferry astronauts to the space station and back safely. In 2019, over 100,000 people had traveled to Cape Canaveral in Florida for the prior, uncrewed demonstration flight. Just before lift-off, Hurley said, "SpaceX, we're go for launch".
But Ustimenko praised the United States efforts, noting that both Russian Federation and the USA would now be flying to the International Space Station.
NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with SpaceX and Boeing to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems to low-Earth orbit.