- Photo courtesy of NASA
The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station yesterday completing its mission and first official test run.
This is the first time the station has ever made an official "hook-up" with a commercial spacecraft and first time it has had contact with the U.S.-made ship since last year's retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet.
The SpaceX capsule is the first of many commercial cargo spacecraft the U.S. plans to send to the International Space Station. These types of capsules could eventually be used to transport astronauts to and from the station as well.
"Today is really the beginning of a new era in commercial spaceflight," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA's commercial crew and cargo program.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule was launched on Tuesday atop a Falcon 9 rocket that helped to catapult it into space. NASA and the California based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. invested years of research along with hundreds of millions of dollars in order to create the Dragon.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp was founded a decade ago by billionaire Elon Muck, whose goal was to eventually send humans to settle on Mars.
The SpaceX capsule reaching the station is the first step in the right direction for the company, according to Musk.
"This is a crucial step, and having achieved this step, it makes the things in the future and the ultimate path toward humanity becoming a multi-planet species much, much more likely," said Musk to reporters after the hookup. "The chances of that happening just went up dramatically, so people should be really excited about that."
Although he is happy with the way it turned out, the capsule's mission is just the tip of the iceberg for Musk.
"This is a fantastic thing, but there are better things to come," said Musk.