After a handful of delays and one abort on the launch pad, SpaceX began its historic journey toward the International Space Station on Tuesday morning in America, as its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in a spectacular night time launch.
The unmanned Dragon spacecraft aboard the Falcon 9 rocket successfully separated and deployed its solar arrays just minutes later after being delivered to its intended orbit by the second rocket stage. If a series of test manoeuvres goes well over the next few days, the Dragon will become the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the ISS.
The launch marks the third consecutive successful launch of the Falcon 9 and it very well will may go down in history as the proper beginning of the era of private spaceflight. NASA has been working closely with SpaceX and other commercial spaceflight companies under its COTS program (for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) in an effort to replace the capability lost when the space shuttles retired with private carriers capable of servicing the ISS and other points in low Earth orbit.