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SpaceX becomes first commercial venture to launch, dock with ISS.
Just before 10 a.m. ET today somewhere over Australia, SpaceX became the first privately owned company to successfully launch a rocket and dock with the International Space Station.
American astronaut Donald Pettit used the ISS’s robotic arm to reach out and grab the Dragon capsule, or what NASA calls a "berthing."
“It looks like we've got us a dragon by the tail,” Pettit told mission control in Houston.
It was shortly after that, a NASA Television webcast showed a jubilant control center in Hawthorne, Calif., home of SpaceX.
The entire mission took 3 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes after launching Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
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SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, is owned by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, The Associated Press reported.
It's one of four private firms competing to ferry goods and astronauts for the United States into space.
Until now, the US paid Russia $60 million per seat to launch and return American astronauts after NASA retired the shuttle program last year.
Dragon is carrying more than 1,200 pounds of food, and one of its advantages over other cargo carriers is, it can return to Earth.
According to the AP, Russian, European and Japanese capsules simply take out the trash and burn up in the atmosphere.
Today's docking happened while both craft rocketed through space at 17,500 mph, Reuters reported.
Dragon will stay in space until May 31, then return to Earth using the same method Apollo astronauts got home in the 1960s — by splashing into the Pacific Ocean, according to Reuters.
There was a slight delay to this morning's operation, when laser sensors returned some faulty test readings, MSNBC said.
It simply meant Dragon backed away from its final resting place as crews in Hawthorne narrowed the laser view to avoid picking up reflections from the Japanese-built Kibo laboratory.
"It's a great view," Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers said from ISS, according to MSNBC. "The solar panels are nicely lit."
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