The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday, May 22, 2012. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The world's first private space station supply ship is closing in on its destination for a crucial test.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule reached the general neighborhood of the International Space Station on Thursday morning for a series of critical close-up checks. NASA wants to make certain the Dragon's navigation and communication systems are working properly, from more than a mile out, before it commits to a docking. The historic linkup is scheduled for Friday.
It is the first U.S. vessel to visit the space station since NASA's shuttles retired last summer. The SpaceX company is controlling the capsule from its headquarters in Southern California.
The Dragon rocketed into orbit Tuesday.