Cape Canaveral, Fla. -
SpaceX has become the first private company to successfully launch a rocket into space, as the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 3:44a.m. SpaceX will now attempt to dock with the International Space Stations, ISS, which if successful, will be another first for a private company.
SpaceX had previously tried to launch but was aborted in the last half second by a computer warning of a small valve problem in one of the nine engines.
The company has stated this is just a test flight to demonstrate it can launch rockets and that its Dragon capsule can dock with the ISS to carry astronauts and supplies. If the whole process is successful, the company will be able to fill its order with NASA for at least 12 launches to carry ISS supplies, launch satellites and other low-earth orbit missions.
The Dragon capsule will rendezvous with the ISS in two days, where it will preform a flyby so that the station can inspect the craft and the station's robotic arm can grab it. Just before the actual docking, engineers will intentionally abort the docking to make sure the abort process works.
On board are ISS supplies, and after 5 flight days, station astronauts will enter the Dragon capsule and retrieve the supplies. It will return to earth 2 weeks later, splashing down off the California coast.
The rockets loud engines could be heard as far away as parts of east Orlando, with residence who watch it go up saying it sounded like a dull rumble.
Development of the Falcon 9 rocket cost $300 million, it stands 157 feet tall and its nine engines produce 1 million pounds of thrust.