SpaceX
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A ‘new era': Private-sector space mission

SpaceX
This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station on Friday. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (NASA)
SpaceX
A television still from NASA TV provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 25 May 2012 shows the SpaceX ‘Dragon’ commercial cargo craft after it was captured by the robotic arm of the International Space Station (ISS) on 25 May 2012. The Dragon spacecraft arrived at the ISS to become the first private craft ever to reach the orbiting laboratory. Dragon had slowly approached the station over the course of several hours, coming to within metres of the ISS, before astronauts inside the station used a robotic arm to grab the craft at 1356 GMT as both craft flew high over Australia. (NASA)
SpaceX
A television still from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft after it was captured by the robotic arm of the International Space Station. (NASA)
SpaceX
This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2’s video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2.  (NASA)
SpaceX
This image shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2’s video camera as Dragon approaches the space station. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2.  (NASA)
The International Space Station
The International Space Station, left, passes in front of the sun as seen in this picture taken from Salgotarjan, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, on Thursday. (Peter Komka / EPA)
SpaceX, NASA launch
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule lifts off from the Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NASA)
SPaceX
The launch gantry falls away as the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., before dawn. (John Raoux / Associated Press)
SpaceX
The SpaceX rocket heads into orbit.  (Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images)
Elon Musk
Elon Musk with the SpaceX Dragon capsule on display at Hawthorne company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX. This Dragon capsule became the first private spacecraft to achieve orbit and return to Earth. Armed with his personal fortune and a Rolodex full of Silicon Valley venture capitalist contacts, Musk started SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., and co-founded electric car company Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Mission control
Inside SpaceX’s Hawthorne complex, the company has a vast mission control center where engineers can keep real-time tabs on rocket launches at Cape Canaveral and on the mission itself. They monitor incoming data for anomalies, and if there are any, they can order the launch to be scrubbed or address the mission issues.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Workforce
SpaceX has a workforce of about 1,800, mostly in Hawthorne and Cape Canaveral. And much like the early days of NASA, the company has a cadre of young engineers -- the average age is in the early 30s -- who have turned down jobs at larger aerospace companies.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Working toward a goal
SpaceX has been planning this mission for more than 17 months. Many employees say they work for SpaceX because it’s new and operates more like a Silicon Valley start-up than an entrenched aerospace company.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
In transit
A Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket is transported late last month to a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. In addition to the NASA contract, SpaceX has commercial contracts worth more than $4 billion to launch satellites aboard its Falcon 9 rocket for various countries and telecommunications companies. (SpaceX)
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