In first, private company sends capsule to International Space Station

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station for a historic docking Friday, captured by astronauts wielding a giant robot arm. …

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, is grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25. / NASA

U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit used the space station’s 58-foot robot arm to snare the gleaming white Dragon after a few hours of extra checks and maneuvers. The two vessels came together while sailing above Australia.

“Looks like we’ve got us a dragon by the tail,” Pettit announced from 250 miles up once he locked onto Dragon’s docking mechanism. …

NASA controllers clapped as their counterparts at SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, Calif. — including SpaceX’s billionaire maestro, Elon Musk, of PayPal fame — lifted their arms in triumph and jumped out of their seats to exchange high fives.

This is the first time a private company has attempted to send a vessel to the space station, an achievement previously reserved for a small, elite group of government agencies. And it’s the first U.S. craft to visit the station since the final shuttle flight last July. SEE COMPLETE TEXT.

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