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SpaceX rocket begins milestone mission to space station

Michael R. Brown / Reuters

The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 22, 2012.

Space.com reports from CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A private space capsule called Dragon soared into the predawn sky Tuesday, riding a pillar of flame like its beastly namesake on a history-making trip to the International Space Station.

The unmanned capsule, built by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX venture, is the first non-governmental spacecraft to launch to the space station, ushering in a new era of partnership between the public and private spaceflight programs. Read the full story.

Pierre Ducharme / Reuters

The rocket blasted off on Tuesday for a mission designed to be the first commercial flight to the International Space Station. The mock shuttle Explorer, in the foreground, had been on display at the Kennedy Space Center Complex, and will be moved to the Johnson Space Center in Houston this week in order to make room for the arrival of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

John Raoux / AP

The lift-off is seen in a long-exposure photo.

An unmanned rocket owned by privately held Space Exploration Technologies blasted off from Cape Canaveral on a mission designed to be the first commercial flight to the International Space Station. Msbnc.com's Dara Brown reports.

NASA/SDO/AIA

Click through a solar eruption, the final odyssey of the shuttle Discovery and other outer-space highlights from April 2012.