In the meantime, NASA is paying two companies - SpaceX and Boeing - to build and operate America's next generation of rocket ships.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule launched from the NASA-operated Kennedy Center aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. On March 3rd, the Dragon autonomously docked with the ISS, not requiring the aid of the station's robotic arm. It will be slowed by four parachutes, in what is the one of the mission's riskiest stages.The launch is a key step towards resuming manned space flights from U.S. soil after an eight-year break. But Musk has admitted that marketing travel in the Dragon capsule is not a priority - and he is more interested in distant exploration of the solar system.
A new experiment planned for launch to the space station in August 2022 will, for the first time, gather global observations of an important driver of space weather in our upper atmosphere.
SpaceX's Demo-2 test flight, which will fly NASA astronauts to the space station, is targeted to launch in July. At 10:51 UTC (05:51 EST), a full nine minutes ahead of schedule, the spacecraft successfully docked with the global docking adaptor at the forward end of the Harmony module.
The space station's three-member crew was expected to greet the capsule, carrying 400 pounds (181 kg) of supplies and test equipment, early Sunday morning, NASA said. After 11 minutes of launch, the vehicle separated from the rocket.
During their mission, the station crew will take part in about 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical, and biological sciences, NASA said.
As the capsule closed in on the space station, its nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth to expose the docking mechanism.
Crew Dragon Capsule successfully docked to ISS.
Dragon will remain at the space station until Friday, when it will undock for an old-school splashdown in the Atlantic, a few hundred miles off Florida. "I know you heard the applause and all the clapping that went along with the accomplishment today and so it's just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here". The version designed for humans is slightly bigger and safer.