01:08 - Source: NASA
SpaceX launches first private spacecraft

Story highlights

SpaceX founder says the launch could prove to be a turning point for space exploration

"The signifance of this day cannot be overstated," NASA director says

The rocket carrying a space capsule lifts off successfully early Tuesday

The launch is the first private mission bound for the International Space Station

CNN —  

A new era in space exploration dawned Tuesday as a slender rocket shot into the dark Florida sky before sunrise, carrying the first private spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.

“We’re now back on the brink of a new future, a future that embraces the innovation the private sector brings to the table,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “The significance of this day cannot be overstated.”

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:44 a.m., carrying 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and scientific experiments on a demonstration mission to gauge the company’s ability to safely and efficiently deliver supplies to astronauts staffing the orbiting station.

Opinion: Private space travel – A new era begins?

If successful, the test could open the door to a wave of commercial exploitation of space.