Built capsule with a dummy aboard docks at space station

SpaceX successfully launches Crew Dragon

SpaceX founder Elon Musk

Following a successful launch early Saturday morning, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft is set to rendezvous and dock to the International Space Station for the first time.

SpaceX's 27-foot-long (8-meter-long) capsule rocketed into orbit early Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a mannequin strapped into one of its four seats in a dashing, white-and-black, form-fitting SpaceX spacesuit.

The first American commercially built-and-operated crew spacecraft in eight years docked successfully Sunday at the International Space Station.

Enlarge / SpaceX founder Elon Musk shares a laugh with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Bob Behnken, in the launch control room at Kennedy Space Center Friday night.

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An unmanned spacecraft launched by United States venture firm SpaceX has docked with the International Space Station. After a successful lift off the ship is now heading towards the International Space Station (ISS) where it will be docked for five days before heading back to Earth.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk, who founded the company in 2002, was at the space centre for the occasion. Shortly after the docking, Ripley was joined by the three astronauts now living on the ISS who donned precautionary oxygen masks to check the atmosphere aboard. SpaceX engineers dubbed the dummy Ripley, a nod to the movie Alien.

The astronaut Anne McClain, one of the ISS crew members, after the hooks hooked to the station, confirmed the completion of the berth.

NASA also sent more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station, including bulk overwrap bags containing more than 1,000 food and drink packages for the crew.

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Astronaut David Saint-Jacques and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko swung open the hatch and entered the capsule at 7:07 a.m. Houston time, where NASA employees watched.

The mission also marks a significant step toward to the return of human launches to the space station on a US-built spacecraft from USA soil since 2011.

Ripley and the capsule are rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration and stresses and monitor the life-support, propulsion and other critical systems.

The Dragon's backshell, or heatshield, has a somewhat irregular shape and that could lead to temperature variations across the base of the capsule at hypersonic speeds. It's had to pay to use Russian Soyuz vehicles instead. 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.

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The launch marks the first under NASA's commercial crew program. Having no humans onboard to guide it, it was also a test of automated docking systems for future runs.

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