The International Space Station and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule made history on Friday morning when the stations crew used a robotic arm to capture the Dragon capsule and then dock it with the ISS.
By successfully completing its first mission the Dragon capsule becomes the first commercial spacecraft to dock with a space station.
SpaceX which signed a $1.6 billion deal with NASA had been testing the Dragon capsule and its Falcon rocket for weeks, however delayed caused by systems issues caused the delivery to be postponed on several occasions.
The Dragon capsule was captured on Friday morning by astronauts Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers who maneuvered the Space Station and its robotic arm around space for several hours before successfully grabbing the capsule.
The SpaceX project is an important stepping stone for NASA’s future, by handing over basic orbital flights to private business NASA engineers will be about to focus on bigger missions, such as landing on asteroids and sending its first astronauts to Mars by 2033.
In the meanwhile SpaceX has shown how a private company can create space technology faster and more efficiently then NASA and other space agencies that are marred in bureaucratic red tape. The SpaceX project was privately bankrolled by billionaire investor Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal.
The Dragon capsule will now remain in space for nearly a weeks time after which point it will be released by the International Space Station and then return to earth with a load of experiments inside its capsule.
SpaceX will now focus on bigger delivery projects for NASA, this first docking test carried only basic supplies such as food and water.
The next company to launch a commercial cargo ship into orbit will be Orbital Sciences Corp, its capsule is expected to launch in late 2012.