An estimated 5,000 NASA and contractor employees, tourists and journalists gathered in the wee hours at Kennedy Space Center with the SpaceX launch team, as the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off before dawn from the same spot where Apollo moon rockets and space shuttles once soared.
In 2014, the United States space agency awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to take over the task of ferrying astronauts to the space station.
After launching from the Space Coast early Saturday morning, the astronaut capsule arrived at the International Space Station early Sunday and safely docked. After reaching the 400-meter point, Dragon was set to move in front of the station, 150 meters away - before automatically docking at 1100 GMT.
The inaugural flight, known as Demo-1, is an important mission created to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system, Nasa said.
"Man, we were all working so hard to get to the start of flying this new vehicle-it was super exhilarating", he said. They anxious that if the uncrewed vehicle's computer malfunctioned, the Dragon might have crashed into the station - much as a Russian Progress cargo craft crashed into the Mir space station in 1997. The astronauts wore oxygen masks and hoods until getting the all-clear.
Either SpaceX or Boeing will have bragging rights as the first private company to launch humans into space on its own rocket, although plans call for rockets built by both companies to carry astronauts into space.
"I know you heard the applause and all the clapping that went along with the accomplishment today and so it's just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here".
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A Chinese court had also sentenced to death a Canadian man who had previously been jailed for drug smuggling. Martin said the charges against Meng are not crimes in Canada and that his client maintains her innocence.
SpaceX already has made 16 trips to the space station using cargo Dragons. In a docking with a crew aboard, the capsule would likewise operate autonomously, though the astronauts might push a button or two and would be able to intervene if necessary.
The nosecone of Dragon opened to reveal the docking port and forward-facing Draco thrusters, and the first of a series of burns to gradually match the ISS's orbit was completed. They burst into applause again, several minutes later, when the Dragon's latches were tightly secured.
Then at about 8:07 a.m., the crew of the ISS opened the hatch on Crew Dragon and astronauts Anne McClain, an American, and David Saint-Jacques, a Canadian, entered to find Ripley, who was named after the main character, Ellen Ripley, in the "Alien" movies.
That triggered cheers at the firm's headquarters and at the Kennedy Space Center.
Ripley and the capsule are rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses and monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems.
"Our honest congratulations to all earthlings who have enabled the opening of this next chapter in space exploration", NASA astronaut Anne McClain said from aboard the ISS during a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon.
After the shuttle program was shut down in July 2011 following a 30-year run, NASA began outsourcing the logistics of its space missions.
Since that time, NASA has had to buy seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for crew rotations, at a cost that has escalated to more than $80 million per seat.