IN SPACE (MARCH 3, 2019) (NASA TV) – A SpaceX unmanned crew capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station on Sunday (March 3) in a key milestone for Elon Musk’s space company and NASA’s long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from U.S. soil later this year.
SpaceX’s 16-foot-tall (4.9 meter) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT) on Saturday (March 2), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.
The docking went smoothly and on schedule, sparking cheers in the control room.
During its five-day stay, U.S. astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon’s cabin.
NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil for the first time since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.
Either SpaceX or Boeing will have bragging rights as the first private company to launch humans into space on its own rocket, although plans call for rockets built by both companies to carry astronauts into space.
The launch systems are aimed at ending U.S. reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the $100 billion orbital research laboratory, which flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, at about $80 million per ticket.