The SpaceX rocket launched successfully from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Tuesday, marking the first time a private company has sent a vessel to dock with the International Space Station.
As Reuters reports, the rocket took off from a refurbished launching pad near where the now-retired space shuttles once launched. The rocket’s cargo, a 1,200-pound Dragon capsule carrying supplies for the ISS, reached orbit less than 10 minutes after the launch.
The SpaceX rocket is owned by Space Exploration Technologies, a California-based company that is among four private enterprises vying to replace the space shuttle as NASA‘s vehicle to take astronauts and supplies into the Earth’s orbit. ”Dragon in orbit … Feels like a giant weight just came off my back,” wrote company founder Elon Musk on Twitter. Musk, co-founder of PayPal, poured much of his own money into the venture. In total, SpaceX spent more than $1 billion on the first privately-funded trip to the ISS, the Associated Press reports.
The next big test for SpaceX will come Thursday, when the Dragon capsule is scheduled to practice its maneuvering capabilities before docking with the space station on Friday.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012