The Crew Dragon spacecraft unmanned test flight launched early Saturday morning.
A SpaceX rocket lighted up the sky early Saturday morning as it launched a capsule on its way to the International Space Station, bringing the United States one step closer to resuming manned space flight.
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 USA soil later this year.
Eleven minutes later, the confirmation came from SpaceX mission control: "Dragon separation confirmed".
"It's been a long eight years", said Bob Cabana, the Kennedy Space Center's director and a former astronaut.
In another success, the rocket's first stage returned to Earth, landing on a platform 500 kilometers off the Florida coast in the Atlantic.
A SpaceX rocket with an 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 US soil later this year.
"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 Admininistrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
"We really have one exploration campaign, but we have three theaters: We have low-Earth orbit, we have the moon, and we have Mars", Bridenstine said. NASA now pays $82 million per seat.
If the trip goes off without a hitch and all goes to plan with a subsequent emergency escape test, SpaceX will begin transporting astronauts to the ISS later this year.
Boeing also has a contract with NASA for manned space capsules.
California's SpaceX firm has carried out a demonstration of a new rocket and capsule combination.
Eight years after the last manned U.S. space flight, NASA and SpaceX are preparing to test a new space capsule for astronauts on Saturday - although for now the only occupant will be a dummy named Ripley. "Right now, the date is July and that's what we're planning for, but if we change that date we'll make sure people know when it's the right time".
The dummy riding in the capsule - which SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann prefers to call a "smartie" - has been nicknamed Ripley in honour of the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies.