Space X's Crew Dragon capsule docks with International Space Station

LIFT OFF California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket

Every successful stage of the mission-whose planning suffered three-year delays-triggered cheers at the firm's headquarters and at Kennedy Space Center.

Dragon will spend four days docked to the ISS, after which Dragon will return to Earth with science samples as well as a failed spacesuit part needing fix. It's expected to parachute into the Atlantic Ocean, which will be a couple of hundred miles off Florida's coast. It marks the 35th such recovery by SpaceX.

The white, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule, developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX company under contract to NASA, closed in on the orbiting station almost 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean and, flying autonomously, linked up on its own, without the help of the robotic arm normally used to guide spacecraft into position.

They rushed there from Florida after watching the Dragon rocket into orbit early Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The launch of the new astronaut capsule on a week-long round trip to ISS is seen as a key step towards resuming manned space flights from United States soil after an eight-year break.

The excitement was palpable at Cape Canaveral, from the space-fan volunteers guiding media on site, to the tourists who came to watch the launch light up the overcast skies.

As Crew Dragon hurls through space, SpaceX will command the craft from its control center in Hawthorne, California, while NASA teams will monitor operations throughout the flight from the agency's mission control center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets ever since NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011.

Russian Federation charges about $80 million per ticket.

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Photos from the launch of SpaceX's first spacecraft created to transport humans
After the shuttle program was shuttered in 2011 after a 30-year run, NASA began outsourcing the logistics of its space missions. SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule , its first spacecraft created to carry humans, took flight for the first time Saturday.

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Reuters reported on February 21 that SpaceX and Boeing both must address significant design and safety concerns before they can fly humans.

Boeing aims to conduct the first test flight of its Starliner capsule in April, with astronauts on board possibly in August.

All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and 90kg of supplies. If you enjoy our coverage and are able, please consider supporting us on Patreon to help in our efforts to to bring you fantastic content about the space industry!

The excitement was palpable Friday at Cape Canaveral, where a day earlier the rocket was wheeled out of its hangar and staged in a vertical position on the legendary launch pad where the Apollo Moon missions took off. "We're pretty good at throwing things into space". "Right now, the date is July and that's what we're planning for, but if we change that date we'll make sure people know when it's the right time". It paves the way for Demo-2, a test flight with a crew to carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS.

With the successful launch and docking procedure now behind it, only one important test remains for SpaceX's test flight: the return trip. A test dummy "Ripley" sits behind her in a SpaceX spacesuit.

"We instrumented the crap out of that vehicle", said Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA's Commercial Crew program.

"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight", he said.

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