SpaceX rocket carries first supplies to International Space Station
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Sunday, launching the cargo-laden Dragon capsule into Earth's orbit on its way to the International Space Station for NASA's first privately-run supply mission.
The SpaceX craft, carrying around 1,000 pounds (455 kilograms) of supplies, took off as scheduled at 8:35 pm (0035 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the site of many launches into space.
Dragon is set to reach the ISS on Wednesday, where it will spend about two weeks. This is the first of 12 planned missions in the US firm's $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
The launch was the next step in American efforts to commercialize the space industry, in hopes of reducing costs and spreading them among a wider group than governments alone.
SpaceX, owned by billionaire Paypal co-founder Elon Musk, is one of several private companies working with the US space agency to send flights to and from the ISS. NASA has been relying on Russian spacecraft for the last year, after retiring its fleet of shuttles.
Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth -- splashing down off the coast of southern California -- on October 28, carrying about 734 pounds of scientific tests and results.