CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule took off without a hitch Saturday morning from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. The next time it does so, it’s scheduled to be carrying astronauts.
The liftoff, which went off to cheers by Space Center employees when it took off on schedule at 2:49 a.m., is the first time a commercially built spaceship designed to carry astronauts launched to the International Space Station.
UPDATE March 3 at 11:46 a.m. EST: SpaceX's Crew Dragon successfully docked to an International Space Station port at 5:51 a.m., The Verge reported. It did so automatically a day after launching from Florida Saturday.
NASA crew members opened the hatch between Crew Dragon and International Space Station at 8:07 a.m. Sunday. Astronauts welcomed the SpaceX Crew Dragon in a ceremony aboard the Space Station.
The six-day test flight will be real in every regard, but the Dragon capsule won’t carry humans, rather a test dummy — named Ripley after the tough heroine in the “Alien” films — in the same white SpaceX spacesuit that astronauts will wear.
The event is expected to bring back excitement to the region that hasn't been felt on the Space Coast since NASA launched its last shuttle Atlantis on July 8, 2011.
Since NASA shut down its shuttle program in 2011, it has had to buy seats on Russian capsules. That costs roughly $80 million per trip.
If successful, the Crew Dragon capsule would lower costs and make it possible for astronauts to launch again from American soil.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group