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SpaceX launches station cargo

October 07, 2012
"We're handing off to the private sector our transportation to the International Space Station so that Nasa can focus on what we do best - exploring even deeper into our Solar System, with missions to an asteroid and Mars on the horizon,"
- agency administrator Charles Bolden.

The first commercially contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has lifted off.

A Falcon rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifted clear of Cape Canaveral in Florida at 20:35 (00:35 GMT).

The robotic Dragon ship will deliver 400kg of food, clothing, experiments and spares to the orbiting platform's six astronauts.

It is the maiden flight in a sequence of 12 missions that California's SpaceX company is performing for Nasa.

The US space agency is looking to the private sector to assume routine transport duties to and from low-Earth orbit.

It has given SpaceX a $1.6bn contract to keep the ISS stocked up with essentials, restoring a re-supply capability that the US lost when it retired the shuttles last year.

The terms of the contract kicked in following a successful test of Dragon's systems in May.

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