Unmanned US capsule onboard SpaceX rocket blasts off to ISS

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

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

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.

The unmanned test flight is meant to demonstrate SpaceX's ability to safely and reliably carry astronauts to and from the ISS.

SpaceX has previously sent supplies to the ISS with its Dragon vessel, but the current vehicle, Crew Dragon, is the first to dock autonomously instead of using the robot arm of the ISS.

The former astronaut said he was heartened to see that the new propulsion, communication, and other systems on Crew Dragon all were performing as expected so far, with the biggest tests yet to come with docking to the station, and reentry through Earth's atmosphere.

They opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any US spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Elon Musk's aerospace company is a step closer to launching its recreational space flights after its capsule, Dragon, successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS).

The crew Dragon is the first American-made, designed-for-crew spacecraft to pull up to the station in eight years.

After docking to the station, Dragon's hatch will be opened, and the station crew will board the spacecraft to perform inspections.

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Dragon will remain at the space station until Friday, when it undocks and aims to splashdown in the Atlantic ocean, a few hundred miles off the Florida coast.

Although SpaceX has been flying a cargo-based version of the Dragon to the station since 2012, the new Dragon has been entirely remade for crew.

Two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, watched the spectacle from Kennedy's Launch Control.

Saint-Jacques and Kononenko were the first to enter the Crew Dragon after opening the hatch.

"We're looking forward to being one customer of many customers in a robust commercial market place in low-Earth orbit, so we can drive down costs and increase access in ways that historically have not been possible". They burst into applause again, several minutes later, when the Dragon's latches were tightly secured. The test dummy was nicknamed Ripley after the main character in the "Alien" movies.

NASA says that Boeing's CST-100 Starliner continues to undergo testing in preparation for its Orbital Flight Test, slated for no earlier than April.

"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight", he said. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.

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

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