Private Spacecraft Lifts Off Toward Space Station

The first private spacecraft aiming to dock with the international space station blasted off from Florida early Tuesday with split-second precision, but the biggest tests for the mission are still days ahead.

The predawn skies around Cape Canaveral filled with the bright glow and deep rumble of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s Falcon 9 rocket lifting off the pad, carrying an unmanned Dragon spacecraft on a highly anticipated test flight scheduled to last about two weeks. Within three minutes, the Falcon 9 reached a velocity of 10 times the speed of sound, with the first stage dropping off and the second stage continuing to speed toward orbit.

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