By Eddie Wrenn
PUBLISHED: 03:58 EST, 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 11:53 EST, 25 May 2012
The SpaceX Dragon capsule has docked with the International Space Station, marking the first time a private company has joined with the space station.
The ISS’s Expedition 31 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station’s robotic arm at 2:56 PM, coming precisely three days, six hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission’s launch.
The station was 251 miles over northwest Australia at the time.
Scroll down for docking video:
Off we go: The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket is seen during a time exposure as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, flying off to the ISS
This is the first time a private company has launched a vessel to the space station, joining a small, elite group of governments.
U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing commercial ventures in orbit so NASA can concentrate on grander destinations like asteroids and Mars.
The test flight of SpaceX’s capsule, launched on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, will hopefully help America re-establish access to the ISS, after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.
NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told AFP: ‘So far everything is going as planned’, and said there was a ‘sense of optimism’ among the mission control team.
The private space cargo firm’s historic launch to the International Space Station blasted off at 8.44BST on Tuesday, carrying with it a capsule loaded with 1,000lbs of space station provisions.
Also on-board are the ashes of Star Trek legend James ‘Scotty’ Doohan, fulfilling his final wish to spend eternity resting in space.
Staying on board the space station for a week and a half, the capsule will be re-loaded and sent back to Earth where it will land in the Pacific and be retrieved.
The mission is the first by a private company to the $100billion orbital outpost, a project of 15 countries.
NASA is investing in SpaceX, as well as four other companies, to fly cargo and eventually astronauts to the station following the retirement of the space shuttles last summer.
The first attempt on Saturday stalled, as the countdown reached all the way to practically zero before there was an automatic shutdown by on-board computers.
So instead of blasting off from Cape Canaveral on a delivery mission to the International Space Station, the rocket remained on its launch pad amid a cloud of engine exhaust.
Standing tall: Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft, pictured a day before its first launch, are in the final stages of preparation for their historic flightute safely (left) and to splash down in the Pacific (right)
Only governments have completed such a feat to date, with the SpaceX voyage the first time such a voyage has been completed by a private firm.
Ferrying the Dragon capsule into space, the mission to the ISS will be to deliver 1,000 pounds of non-essential cargo after passing a series of test maneuvers over the course of three days.
If successful in its first-of-a kind mission, the company behind the venture SpaceX would collect the remaining payments on the $396 million contract it has with NASA and then enter into a $1.6 billion agreement for 11 more flights to the ISS.
The first step in the commercialisation of space to non-governmental firms, SpaceX is hoping one day to deliver up to seven passengers to the ISS and other destinations in low-Earth orbit.
See the launch here:
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