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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 10/08/2012

SpaceX Dragon capsule en route to international space station for first flight under NASA contract

The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sunday night to make its first cargo delivery to the international space station (ISS).

Dragon left aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and will deliver 1,000 pounds of cargo, including science experiments, clothes and even ice cream to the international crew. Dragon is on schedule to reach the space station Wednesday, with a nearly perfect launch. Officials reported a problem with one of the rocket’s nine first-stage engines, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

The launch, the first under the $1.6 billion contract between NASA and SpaceX, comes after a successful test run in May, during which SpaceX made history as the first commercial entity to send a craft into space to dock with the ISS and successfully return.

On this trip, the capsule is scheduled to spend approximately three weeks attached to the ISS, and is expected to bring back two times the amount of cargo that it left Earth with, including blood and urine samples that have been stored aboard the ISS since the space shuttle Atlantis’ final flight in July 2011.

“The SpaceX launch tonight marks the official start of commercial resupply missions by American companies operating out of U.S. spaceports like the one right here in Florida,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden via a release Sunday.

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By  |  11:42 AM ET, 10/08/2012

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