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SpaceX success! 'Dragon' docks at International Space Station

The privately-owned Dragon capsule is on a key resupply mission for NASA.

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The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station on October 10, 2012. (JOE RAEDLE /AFP/Getty Images)

SpaceX's Dragon capsule completed the first leg of it's historic mission Wednesday.

The capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station shortly before 7am Pacific Time. Crews used a robotic arm to grab the Dragon as it floated outside the station, reports the Los Angeles Times. 

“Looks like we’ve tamed the Dragon,” said NASA astronaut Sunita Williams aboard the station. “We’re happy she’s on board with us. Thanks to everyone at SpaceX and NASA for bringing her to us... and the ice cream."

Chocolate and vanilla swirl was one of items packed into the Dragon's 1,000 pound cargo of food, clothes, experiments and equipment, reports NBC News.

The landing was a key moment for NASA and marks the first time a private company has been contracted to resupply the station after NASA's fleet of shuttles is retired. California-based SpaceX inked a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to embark on a dozen resupply missions.

The rocket left Earth from Cape Canaveral, Fla on Sunday on top the company's Falcon 9 rocket. 

The mission suffered its first setback 79 seconds into Sunday's launch. It appears that one of the Falcon's nine Merlin engines exploded but its eight others managed to get the rocket safely into orbit, reports Wired magazine. 

A slow motion video posted on Wired shows a fireball as the engine explodes. 

 

SpaceX denied the engine explosion endangered the mission in any way. 

“Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do,” SpaceX said in a statement. “Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission.”

Space station crews will spend the next two and a half weeks unloading and reloading the Dragon before it is sent back to Earth. The capsule is expected to deploy back to Earth using parachutes and should splash down in the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles west of Southern California, reports the LA Times. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/121010/spacex-success-rocket-docks-at-international-space-station