Rocket set to blast off, open new space era

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A private company is on the verge of making history by launching a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket belonging to the company known as SpaceX is set to blast off at 4:55 a.m. EDT Saturday from Cape Canaveral. Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 70 percent. A thunderstorm was reported to the south but was expected to move offshore.

The Falcon holds a capsule called Dragon that is loaded with 1,000 pounds of space station provisions.

NASA is looking to the private sector to take over flights to orbit in this new post-shuttle era. The goal is to get American astronauts launching again from U.S. soil. SpaceX officials say that could happen in as little as three years, possibly four.


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