SpaceX launches unmanned U.S. space capsule to space station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft sits on launch pad 39A prior to the uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A SpaceX rocket with a newly designed unmanned crew capsule blasted off on Saturday for the International Space Station, in a key milestone for Elon Musk’s space company and NASA’s long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from U.S. soil later this year.

SpaceX’s 16-foot-tall (4.9 meter) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at TK 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley.

The space station’s three-member crew was expected to greet the capsule, carrying 400 pounds of supplies and test equipment, early Sunday morning, NASA said. During its five-day stay, U.S. astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon’s cabin.

Reporting By Joey Roulette at Cape Canaveral, Florida; Editing by David Gregorio and Kim Coghill

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