CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - America's newest capsule for astronauts is rocketing toward the International Space Station on a high-stakes test flight by SpaceX. A Falcon rocket blasted off with the crew Dragon capsule early Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The only passenger is a life-size test dummy, named Ripley from the "Alien" movies. SpaceX needs to nail the debut of the capsule before putting people on board later this year.
The Dragon should reach the space station Sunday.
Among the estimated 5,000 launch spectators at Kennedy were the two NASA astronauts who will strap in as early as July for the second demo, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. It's been eight years since Hurley and three other astronauts flew the last space shuttle mission, and human launches from Florida ceased.
NASA has already announced the 9 astronauts who will crew the first flight test and missions as part of the Commerical Crew program. The goal of the program is to expand the use of the ISS and research challenges of long duration spaceflight, which is necessary for missions to the moon or Mars.