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SpaceX’s Dragon Crew-1 capsule, with 4 astronauts aboard, on way to ISS

SpaceX successfully launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Nov. 15, the second time a private company has sent astronauts into space. (Video: NASA via AP, Photo: Jonathan Newton/NASA via AP)

Update: Follow live coverage of the SpaceX capsule docking onto the International Space Station here

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday in a spectacular evening liftoff that came days after the company’s Dragon capsule became the first privately owned and operated spacecraft to be certified by NASA for human spaceflight.

SpaceX earned that designation and the right to undertake what NASA hopes will be regular missions to the space station and back after it completed a test flight of two astronauts earlier this year. That May launch was the first of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, forcing the United States to rely on Russia for flights to orbit for nearly a decade.

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