The Falcon 9 carrier rocket with the Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft has lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA reported.
The launch was made at 8:35 p.m. local time October 7 (0035 GMT October 8). The spacecraft will be joined to the International Space Station (ISS) three days later.
“The Dragon capsule reached its planned orbit of 212 miles above Earth and is on course to catch up to the station during the next couple of days. It has opened the two solar arrays on the side of the spacecraft to power its systems from sunlight,” NASA reported on its website.
It is the first of 12 flights to the ISS that US private space transport company SpaceX will make under its $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The Dragon made a demonstration flight to the space station in April. This time, Dragon will take to the ISS more than 1,000 lbs (some 450 kg) of scientific cargo.
The Dragon is a reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX to fly cargo to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.
NASA also awarded SpaceX a Commercial Crew Development contract in April 2011 to develop a reusable spacecraft to carry up to seven astronauts, or a combination of personnel and cargo, to and from the orbital station.
At present, NASA pays Russia a hefty $63 mln for every astronaut who flies to the ISS aboard Soyuz spacecraft.