SpaceX launches Crew Dragon capsule to space station

on Mar2
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated on the launch pad by spotlights at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Joel Kowsky | NASA Handout | Getty Images

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated on the launch pad by spotlights at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Elon Musk’s dream for human spaceflight took a stellar leap forward in the early hours of Saturday morning.

SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon capsule into space for the first time, in a key test flight to prove to NASA that astronauts will be safe on future flights. There were no crew on board.

NASA tweeted soon after the launch: “LIFTOFF! The next big leap in a new chapter of U.S. human spaceflight systems has left the pad.”

Called Demo-1, the mission launched from NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.

This was the first of two test flights for SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Crew program. Demo-2, the first crewed flight, is scheduled for July. According to NASA’s schedule, SpaceX is set to become the first to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil since 2011.

Crew Dragon is slated to autonomously dock to the International Space Station (ISS) at approximately 6:00 a.m. EST on March 3.

While the capsule does not have any people inside for this mission, Crew Dragon is carrying about 400 pounds supplies and equipment to the ISS.

After the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011, NASA partnered with the private sector to develop the future of human spaceflight. Currently, SpaceX and Boeing have NASA contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.



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