SpaceX craft docks at International Space Station

SpaceX rocket launches towards the International Space Station

The module was carried safely into space by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Crew Dragon is meant to transport astronauts eventually, but for this month's mission it carried a data-collecting test dummy named Ripley, which will monitor how traveling in the craft may affect humans.

"SpaceX's Crew Dragon, created to transport astronauts to the International Space Station from US soil, is flying on its own in orbit following an on-time launch".

Looking on from Kennedy's Launch Control were the two NASA astronauts who will strap in as early as July for the second space demo, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

Crew Dragon's launch and docking bring the nation one-step closer to the return of human launches to the space station from the United States for the first time since 2011 - the last space shuttle mission.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk was on hand for the launching. Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems. SpaceX has just tweeted the capsule is metres away from its destination.

Routine crew missions to the space station could start later this year.

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The Crew Dragon used the station's new worldwide docking adapter for the first time since astronauts installed it during a spacewalk in August 2016.

Dragon's arrival marked the first time in eight years that an American-made spacecraft capable of carrying humans has flown to the space station.

Docking with the space station put Crew Dragonin striking distance of the orbiting laboratory and the three astronauts now on board the ISS If the spacecraft lost control, it could have spelled disaster. Astronauts in the US have been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets since NASA's fleet was retired in 2011, but those seats are costly.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is docked to the International Space Station.

If successful, the mission launched on Saturday and the upcoming manned launch will allow NASA to certify the new spacecraft for regular flights to the space station.

"Welcome to the new era in space flight", McClain said from inside the capsule, framed by Ripley and Little Earth. "Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here", he said. When certified to be finally safe for humans, the Crew Dragon has the capacity to carry at most four crew members.

Saint-Jacques and Kononenko were the first to enter the Crew Dragon after opening the hatch.

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