SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docks with ISS

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The module was carried safely into space by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Crew Dragon is occupied by a single dummy named Ripley - named after the protagonist of 1979 science fiction horror film Alien.

The mission is a test launch with only a dummy on board the capsule ahead of a manned flight scheduled for later this year.

CNN noted that the successful docking procedure was a first for SpaceX, which has already run Dragon 1 capsule cargo missions to the ISS but previously relied on the station's robotic arm to grab that craft and manually drag it to the docking port.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who will be the first human crew on the Dragon, sent commands from their base in California to position the vehicle before it made its final approach to the ISS.

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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. It was set up by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the specific intention of taking people beyond Earth.

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

For SpaceX, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

"We're going to learn a ton from this mission", said NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders.

This is the first time for the use a commercial spacecraft for its manned space mission.

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"Our honest congratulations to all earthlings who have enabled the opening of this next chapter in space exploration", NASA astronaut Anne McClain said from aboard the ISS during a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon.

"Today's successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American Astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote Saturday morning. They are expected to be on the capsule's crew this summer.

Aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory at 8:07 am Eastern Time (1307 GMT). The Crew Dragon was designed with an emergency escape system that can carry people out to safety if something goes wrong.

If all goes smoothly, Crew Dragon could conduct a second test flight, with live crew, as soon as April. Coincidentally, that adapter was delivered by a non-Crew SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

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