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Private Rocket Blasts Off For Space Station

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Pad 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Titusville, Florida. The launch this morning  makes SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. (credit: Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Pad 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Titusville, Florida. The launch this morning makes SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. (credit: Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A commercial rocket has blasted off with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company’s Falcon 9 rocket took flight at 3:44 a.m. Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, opening a new era of spaceflight. It carried a capsule named Dragon that is packed with 1,000 pounds of space station provisions.

This is the first time a private business has launched a vessel to the space station. That’s something only major governments have done — until now.

The real test comes Thursday when the Dragon gets close to the space station. It will undergo practice maneuvers from more than a mile out. If all goes well, the docking will occur Friday.

NASA and SpaceX stress that this is a demonstration flight. SpaceX is based in California.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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