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Dragon arrives at space station in a first for private space flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule made a historic arrival at the International Space Station on Friday, triumphantly captured by astronauts wielding a giant robot arm.

SpaceX is the first private company to accomplish such a feat: a commercial cargo delivery into the cosmos.

"There's so much that could have gone wrong and it went right," said an elated Elon Musk, the billionaire maestro of SpaceX.

"This really is, I think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel -- and hopefully the first of many to come."

NASA astronaut Donald Pettit used the space station's 58-foot robot arm to snare the gleaming white Dragon after a few hours of extra checks and maneuvers. The two vessels came together while sailing above Australia.

"Looks like we've got us a dragon by the tail," Pettit announced from 250 miles up once he locked onto Dragon's docking mechanism.

NASA controllers applauded as their counterparts at SpaceX's control center in Hawthorne, Calif. -- including Musk -- lifted their arms in triumph and jumped out of their seats to exchange high fives. The two control rooms worked together, as equal partners, to pull off the feat.

The company's youthful-looking employees -- the average age is 30 -- were still in a frenzy when Musk took part in a televised news conference. They screamed with excitement as if it were at a pep rally and chanted, "E-lon, E-lon, E-lon," as the 40-year-old Musk, wearing a black athletic jacket with the SpaceX logo, described the day's events.

Alcohol was banned from the premises during the crucial flight operation, Musk noted, "but now that things are good, I think we'll probably have a bit of champagne and have some fun."