An artist's impression of the spacecraft arriving at the ISS. Image Credit: NASA / SpaceX
The unmanned test flight brings NASA one step closer to being able to launch its own crewed missions again.
It has been a long time coming, but now at last it seems as though America's reliance on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to launch astronauts to the International Space Station is finally coming to an end.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched atop a Falon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2.49am this morning on a groundbreaking test flight that will see it dock with the orbiting outpost as a demonstration of its readiness to carry astronauts.
For this initial flight, the only passenger is a spacesuit-clad test dummy named Ripley.
"This is really a significant achievement in the history of American space flight," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"We want to make sure we keep our partnership with Russia, which has been very strong for a long period of time, going back to the Apollo Soyuz era, but we also want to make sure we have our own capability to get back and forth to the International Space Station, so that we can have this strong partnership where they can launch on our rockets and we can launch on their rockets."
The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 6:05am on Sunday morning.