Crew from aborted Soyuz capsule set for ISS mission next week

ISS crew officially welcomes SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

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), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.

"A new generation of space flight starts now with the arrival of @SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the @Space_Station", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

The operation was overseen by the space station's three crew members, American Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko, who were able to command the Dragon to hold, retreat or abort the docking if necessary. On March 8 it will separate again and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

"To be frank, I'm a little emotionally exhausted", Musk told reporters barely an hour after liftoff. "We have to come back, but so far it's worked ... we've passed the riskiest items". The recovery was the 35th successful recovery SpaceX has completed.

If this six-day test flight goes well, a Dragon capsule could take two NASA astronauts to the orbiting outpost this summer.

Afterwards, they opened the hatch of the space capsule and, for the first time, penetrated its interior in space. "Congratulations to all for this historic achievement getting us closer to flying American Astronauts on American rockets". Russian Soyuz seats go for up to $82 million apiece. Boeing is looking to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as April and with a crew possibly in August. "It's done. Now we're in a position where we can take our time and make sure we get it right". It used its computers and sensors to guide itself to the station.

The Crew Dragon craft on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A in January. The test dummy was nicknamed Ripley after the main character in the "Alien" movies. "Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch!" About 450 pounds (200 kilograms) of supplies are going up on this flight.

Capsule docked with International Space Station on Sunday at 5:51 AM ET on International docking Adapter. The version designed for humans is slightly bigger and safer.

SpaceX aims to launch Behnken and Hurley as early as July.

"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight", he said. SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, cheered the docking, then burst into applause again when the Dragon's latches were secured.

Despite SpaceX's success at recovering and reusing its rockets, NASA is insisting on brand new boosters from SpaceX for the crew capsule flights.

Launch from Earth on a Falcon 9 rocket: Check.

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