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SpaceX Dragon launches into orbit on its way to International Space Station

California-based SpaceX sent its Dragon capsule to the orbiting lab from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

October 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
California-based SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft into orbit Sunday as it heads to the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule was launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket around 5:35 p.m. PT. The mission marks the first of at least a dozen SpaceX missions to the space station under the company's $1.6 billion cargo resupply contract with NASA.

Dragon was carrying materials to support investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, along with supplies and space station hardware.

If all goes as planned, Dragon will attach to the station Oct. 10 and spend more than two weeks there before it returns to Earth on Oct. 28. It will return to our planet carrying scientific materials.

"We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission," said Elon Musk, the SpaceX CEO, in a press release. "We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon's approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success."

SpaceX successfully sent a cargo ship to the station in May, but that was considered a test flight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.