May 22nd, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Historic launch of private rocket heralds new era

A new era in space exploration dawned Tuesday as a slender rocket powered into the dark Florida sky before sunrise, carrying the first private spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.

Track Dragon in orbit

"We're now back on the brink of a new future, a future that embraces the innovation the private sector brings to the table," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The significance of this day cannot be overstated."

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:44 a.m., carrying 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and scientific experiments on a demonstration mission to gauge the company's ability to safely and efficiently deliver supplies to astronauts staffing the orbiting station.

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