The Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon space capsule, launched into Earth orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:44AM EST this morning from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, FL, is expected to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) later on this week.
The spacecraft manifest includes 674 pounds of ISS supplies and crew provisions, various commemorative patches and pins expected to increase in value as a result of their trip, a collection of student science experiments and the remains of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper, Star Trek actor James Doohan and 306 other people, at least according to the May 22nd, 2012 ABC News article "Celebrities' Ashes Launched on SpaceX Falcon Rocket."
Today's launch is the latest under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to design, demonstrate and develop a system to resupply cargo to the ISS. In 2010, as part of the COTS Demo Flight 1 mission, SpaceX became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
The company also expects to develop a human-rated Dragon capsule as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS.