SpaceX's Crew Dragon docks at ISS

SpaceX's Crew Dragon docks at ISS

A SpaceX rocket with a newly designed unmanned crew capsule has successfully blasted off from a launch pad in the USA state of Florida bound for the International Space Station.

After holding position to await more favorable lighting, the spacecraft resumed its approach and eased in for docking, engaging the station's International Docking Adapter at 5:51 a.m. EST (GMT-5) as the two vehicles passed 257 miles above the Pacific Ocean north of New Zealand. The Crew Dragon includes a new emergency escape system, first tested in 2015, that's created to carry astronauts to safety if there's an emergency.

Eleven minutes later, the capsule separated and a series of maneuvers initiated to set the capsule up to automatically dock with the ISS on Sunday.

In 2014, Nasa awarded SpaceX and Boeing combined contracts worth as much as US$6.8 billion (S$9.2 billion) to fly USA astronauts to the space station. "This first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership is a revolutionary step on our path to get humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond".

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, its first spacecraft created to carry humans, took flight for the first time Saturday. Demo-1 is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

SpaceX has made 16 space station deliveries over the past seven years.

Those handpicked space travelers, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, watched the Crew Dragon launch from Florida, then traveled to Hawthorne to see operations unfold along with the SpaceX team, according to NASA.

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Ever since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, the USA has been hitching rides to and from the space station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Believe it or not, the US Saturday launched a spaceship that can carry astronauts to outer space.

The entire procedure was light on showmanship compared to SpaceX's last major flight test, when the company launched a red Tesla into space on its Falcon Heavy rocket.

Crew Dragon is carrying a dummy named Ripley, named for the "Alien" protagonist, instead of people.

Planning has been delayed by around three years, with the first manned SpaceX flight still pencilled in for July, though officials frequently refer to the end of 2019 as a more realistic deadline. The Starliner is now due to make its first uncrewed test flight no earlier than April, and its first crewed flight no earlier than August.

Next up, though, should be Boeing, NASA's other commercial crew provider. NASA and the Russians are discussing one last purchase, just to make sure USA astronauts have access to the station even if the start of space taxi service has to be delayed.

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