Artist’s rendering of the Crew Dragon spacecraft docking with the International Space Station. Image: SpaceX

After nearly a week in space and successful rendezvous with the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule traveled into Port Canaveral late Saturday and brought full circle its premiere mission for NASA.

With the success of SpaceX Crew Dragon test (“Demo 1”), NASA’s goal of sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard commercial spacecraft took a major step forward.

“Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to,”

– Benjamin Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California.

“This really is an American achievement that spans many generations of NASA administrators and over a decade of work,”

– Current Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

SpaceX intends to reuse the recovered Crew Dragon to conduct an in-flight abort test in April and assuming that goes well, the company will proceed to conduct a manned test flight – “Demo-2” – perhaps in July, carrying two astronauts to take up their posts aboard ISS.

But already, Crew Dragon has taken a big step toward proving itself the first-ever privately developed, human-rated spacecraft in history.

Both SpaceX and Boeing were selected to launch astronauts to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The latter is planning to launch its Starliner capsule on a similar uncrewed demonstration flight in April before a crewed mission no earlier than August. It has contracted with United Launch Alliance to launch the capsule on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.