CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – 3, 2, 1, lift off! A new SpaceX capsule is on its historic test flight to the International Space Station.
The crew ‘Dragon’ mission launched just before 3:00 a.m. eastern time Saturday.
The unmanned mission will test the new capsule’s safety and ability to self-dock at the space station.
Crew Dragon is carrying Ripley, a dummy named for the alien protagonist instead of people, decked out in a SpaceX spacesuit. The craft is also equipped with about 400 pounds of supplies and a decidedly low-tech ‘zero-gravity indicating’ plush globe.
This is the company’s first spacecraft designed to carry astronauts into orbit.
The rocket could end the United States’ decade-long reliance on Russia for human spaceflight.
The ship will dock with the International Space Station Sunday morning and will remain docked at the station until early Friday morning when it begins its journey back to Earth, eventually splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.
Assuming the rest of the test flights runs smoothly, SpaceX is scheduled to actually launch astronauts into space for a demonstration flight this summer, possibly in July.
That launch will be the first time Americans are launched into space from the U.S. on an American rocket since the last space shuttle launch in 2011.