Space station astronauts have captured the Dragon.
The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, making history as the first commercial delivery truck in orbit.
Astronauts Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers used the space station's robot arm to snare the Dragon after a few hours of extra maneuvering.
NASA is handing over routine orbital flights to private business so it can concentrate on grander destinations like asteroids and Mars. The California-based SpaceX company is leading the charge under billionaire Elon Musk, who helped create PayPal.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hailed the achievement in a statement, saying, “Today marks another critical step in the future of American spaceflight. Now that a U.S. company has proven its ability to resupply the space station, it opens a new frontier for commercial opportunities in space — and new job creation opportunities right here in the U.S.”
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, who received a congratulatory phone call from President Obama after the Dragon’s successful launch, expressed his pride and relief after the spacecraft’s docking.
“This is the culmination of an incredible amount of work,” Musk exulted during a press briefing at a SpaceX manufacturing facility in Hawthorne, Calif., surrounded by cheering employees. “There’s so much that could’ve went wrong and it went right.”
Dragon will remain at the space station for nearly a week. It will be freed next Thursday to return to Earth with a load of experiments.
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