An unmanned Dragon capsule built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, the first private space craft to do so.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule was grabbed by the space station's 58-foot robot arm this morning, with NASA webcasting the event on its website. Filled with a payload of 1,000 pounds of food and other provisions, the capsule was launched on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. atop the Hawthorne company’s Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX, founded by technology mogul Elon Musk, is one of several commercial rocket and spacecraft companies competing for the opportunity to eventually launch American astronauts from U.S. soil. Since NASA's final shuttle flight last summer, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides to the space station on Russian spacecraft, and the station’s six-person crew has received supplies from single-use cargo ships made by other countries.
The Dragon is scheduled to detach from the space station on Thursday for a return to Earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles west of Southern California. It will carry back a load of completed experiments for analysis.