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[NASA Launch Announcer]:
"T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as NASA turns to the private sector to resupply the International Space Station."
The first commercial flight to dock with the International Space Station is on its way after a successful launch at 3:44:38 on Tuesday morning.
Ushering in the next stage of privatized space flight, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Now in orbit, the SpaceX Dragon capsule will make its way towards the ISS, bringing with it a half-ton of non-essential supplies.
The capsule itself is reusable and can carry up to seven passengers, though this flight is unmanned.
The launch was originally planned for 4:55 am EDT this past Saturday. It was cancelled at the last second after computers detected a higher-than-allowed pressure reading. Seconds after the engine began firing they were automatically shut down. After being inspected, engineers discovered a faulty engine check valve.
Nine Merlin 1C engines power the Falcon 9 vehicle, which is able to lift 23,000 pounds into Low Earth Orbit. An additional Merlin engine provides the thrust to bring the Dragon capsule to the ISS, which is a low earth orbit station.
The Dragon will orbit earth for a few days while performing a series of system tests. It's expected to dock with the ISS on Friday.
With its Space Shuttle program retired and still decades away from buildings its own manned space vehicles, NASA will use private companies and the space programs of other countries for many of its missions.
SpaceX tweeted (https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/204992602976694272
) an image, taken from the Dragon capsule while in orbit.