This morning at 3:44 a.m. ET, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, launched its Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The ship is now in orbit and on its way to dock with the International Space Station—if all goes well, on Friday.
This Dragon is on an unmanned test flight that will hopefully open the door to 12 more cargo flights to the station as SpaceX continues to developed a manned version that could ferry astronauts to and from the station by 2015.
If successful, this mission will make Dragon the first private vehicle to dock with the International Space Station, and the first American vehicle to support NASA’s manned space program since the Space Shuttle’s retirement last year.
SpaceX went from propulsion chief Tom Mueller’s garage to flying to the International Space Station in 10 years and less than $1 billion. That’s less than a single Space Shuttle mission and includes all-new designs for rocket engines, launch vehicles, and spacecraft.
Welcome to the future of space flight.