Private Spacecraft Docks with ISS

Posted May 25th, 2012 at 1:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The commercial SpaceX Dragon spacecraft made history Friday, becoming the first privately-owned vehicle to reach the International Space Station.

Astronauts aboard the ISS used the station's robotic arm to grab and dock the capsule. Station crew members will open it on Saturday.

This is the first time a private company has launched a spacecraft to the space station, beginning a new phase in the U.S. space program after the nation retired its shuttle fleet last year.

The Dragon will remain linked with the ISS for a week so the station's crew can unload more than 500 kilograms of supplies and reload it with used equipment to be sent back to Earth.

The U.S. space agency NASA is turning to SpaceX and other private companies to ferry supplies, and eventually astronauts, to the space station, taking over for the now-retired shuttles.

Russia, Japan, and Europe have the capability to resupply the ISS, but Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is the only vehicle currently able to transport astronauts to the outpost.