The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon flight docked at the space station around 27 hours after liftoff from NASA’S Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight is designed to demonstrate the possibility for ferrying astronauts in commercial aircraft.
"The @SpaceX Crew Dragon is attached to the @Space_Station! It's a first for a commercially built & operated spacecraft designed for crew! #LaunchAmerica," NASA tweeted.
"To be frank, I'm a little emotionally exhausted," SpaceX founder Elon Musk told reporters barely an hour after liftoff. "We have to dock to the station. We have to come back, but so far it's worked ... we've passed the riskiest items."
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called it "a big night for the United States of America."
The success of the launch drew a Twitter message from President Trump. "We’ve got NASA 'rocking' again," the president wrote. "Great activity and success. Congrats to SPACEX and all!"
"We're on the precipice of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil again for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011," said Bridenstine, who got a special tour of the launch pad on the eve of launch, by Musk.
NASA has provided private companies like SpaceX and Boeing $8 billion to build and operate capsules to transport astronauts to and from the space station. Russian aircraft are the ones to ferry astronauts to the station.
The only way astronauts can get to space are via Russian rockets, yet the cost of using them has steeply risen over the years. NASA currently pays $82 million per seat."
The dummy Ripley – named after the lead character in the “Alien” film series – was strapped in a seat inside the capsule, which can accommodate as many as seven astronauts. A small toy resembling Earth was left to float around. The flight is also packed with around 450 pounds of supplies.
SpaceX already has made 16 trips to the space station using cargo Dragons. The white Crew Dragon is slightly bigger — 27 feet tip to tip — and considerably fancier and safer. Musk said the redesigned capsule has "hardly a part in common" with its predecessor.
Fox News' James Rogers and Lukas Mikelionis and the Associated Press contributed to this report.