SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully docks on ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Demo 1 crew capsule lifts off from pad 39A Saturday

A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lofted Dragon to orbit from LC-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, kicking off the first orbital test flight of NASA's Commercial Crew program.

Along with a sensor-packed dummy astronaut named Ripley, the Crew Dragon brought along a Celestial Buddies Earth plush to serve as a "zero-g indicator" and more than 400 lbs.

The Dragon was only carrying a dummy pilot, but SpaceX aims to start flying American astronauts later this year and put an end to the years-long reliance on Russian Federation to ferry crew to and from the ISS.

On Sunday, the ISS crew watched as Crew Dragon became the first American commercial space vehicle created to carry humans to dock at the station, according to NASA.

It's been eight years since Hurley and three other astronauts flew the last space shuttle mission, and human launches from Florida ceased.

Mr Musk, the head of SpaceX, said it could be the first step towards opening up space travel to private customers.

California's SpaceX firm is performing a demonstration of a new rocket and capsule combination, which, if it works well, will be approved to carry people.

The Crew Dragon is set to detach from the ISS on Friday morning before returning to Earth.

The astronaut Anne McClain, one of the ISS crew members, after the hooks hooked to the station, confirmed the completion of the berth.

"Our honest congratulations to all earthlings who have enabled the opening of this next chapter in space exploration", NASA astronaut Anne McClain said from aboard the ISS during a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon.

In a statement Saturday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated SpaceX and NASA "for this major milestone in our nation's history". "Welcome to the new era in space flight". The contracts may be worth as much as US$6.8 billion and allow the USA to avoid using the Russian Soyuz capsule to transport workers to the ISS.

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

Just two hours after the Dragon's grand entrance, the station crew entered to take air samples.

As many as seven astronauts could squeeze in, although four will be the norm once flights get going, allowing for a little cargo room.

The capsule's lone passenger for launch - a mannequin wearing a white SpaceX spacesuit - remained strapped into its seat as the station's U.S., Canadian and Russian crew removed supplies and photographed the spotless white interior.

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