The mission, called Demo-1, is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership.
The station's three-member crew was expected to greet the capsule, carrying 400 pounds (181 kg) of supplies and test equipment, early Sunday morning, NASA said.
The crew members opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any US spacecraft to the International Space Station.
SpaceX celebrated the successful launch of its Crew Dragon capsule followed by the successful autonomous docking of the spacecraft at the International Space Station on the weekend as aprelude to the resumption of manned US space flights, possibly in the next year.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted both its crew dragon capsule and hopes that made-in-America space travel is back. The capsule will then spend five days docked to the orbiting outpost and then return to Earth on Friday, landing in the Atlantic.
"Everything looks great", United States astronaut Anne McClain, who oversaw events from the station's big bay window, or Cupola.told Mission Control after looking inside Crew Dragon through a hatch window just before the crew entered.
Starliner and Dragon 2 – via Nathan Koga for NSF L2
"Today's successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a statement. Elon Musk says that they might fly people aboard it by summer if things go according to plan. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.
"We are not in a space race", he said.
SpaceX said the spacesuit for Ripley, apparently a reference to the protagonist in the science fiction movie "Alien", has been embedded with sensors around its head, neck, and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.
The only way astronauts can get to space are via Russian rockets, yet the cost of using them has steeply risen over the years. "Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here". Engineers will be carefully watching sound, vibration and other stresses on the spacecraft, while monitoring the life-support, communication and propulsion systems.
For SpaceX, this flight is a key milestone in its 17-year history. Boeing is looking to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as April and with a crew possibly in August.
Nasa is also working with Boeing on crew transport.