SpaceX launches rocket carrying new Dragon capsule

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Falcon 9 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, the launch site for the Apollo 11 mission that put humans on the moon."I would never have believed that this would ever happen", Musk said, referring to using the same launch site.

The launch is a milestone for Elon Musk's space company and NASA's long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from USA territory later this year.

Over the next few days the ISS crew will inspect the inside of the Crew Dragon, take photos of its windows to document how they weathered the journey and unload some supplies that made the trip along with a dummy named Ripley and a plush Little Earth doll used as a "super high tech zero-g indicator", according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

A crystal clear view of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, its nose cone hinged open, on final approach to the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule will remain on the ISS until Friday before detaching to splash down in the Atlantic. Currently, the space agency and its astronauts rely on Russian rockets and crew capsules to ferry Americans to and from ISS - an agreement with Roscosmos that ends in early 2020. The white crew Dragon is slightly bigger - 27 feet (8 meters) tip to tip - and considerably fancier and safer. They anxious that if the uncrewed vehicle's computer malfunctioned, the Dragon might have crashed into the station - much as a Russian Progress cargo craft crashed into the Mir space station in 1997. "Congratulations to SpaceX and NASA teams for this major milestone in our nation's history".

If the rest of the SpaceX mission goes as planned, two astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, could be flying aboard the Crew Dragon as early as July, NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reported.

- Jason Davis (@jasonrdavis) March 3, 2019The first @Commercial_Crew mission arrived at the space station today when the @SpaceX #CrewDragon completed soft capture on the Harmony module at 5:51am ET. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule could undergo its first uncrewed test flight in April.

Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine left and Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX after the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Saturday
APNasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine left and Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX after the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Saturday

In 2014, Nasa awarded SpaceX and Boeing combined contracts worth as much as US$6.8 billion (S$9.2 billion) to fly U.S. astronauts to the space station.

Eleven minutes later, the confirmation came from SpaceX mission control: "Dragon separation confirmed".

NASA broke the news in a tweeted video of the docking, which elicited roaring cheers from those watching.

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration. But now there are four seats, three windows, computer touch screens and life-support systems.

Those Soyuz contracts were set to run out in 2019 and NASA recently moved to secure a couple more seats for late 2019 and the spring of 2020 in case Boeing and SpaceX aren't ready this year.

"We're going to learn a ton from this mission, " said NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders.

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They celebrated that lucky goal. "It's important now to refresh, good recovery and prepare the game against Bournemouth ". This was an opportunity that was presented to me and, of course, then emotionally you have to take that out.