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Scenes from a SpaceX spectacular

NASA via Reuters

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is in free drift above the International Space Station as the Canadarm 2 robotic arm reaches out in preparation to grab it.

Today's arrival of a cargo spaceship at the International Space Station wasn't your typical outer-space delivery run: It was an emotional experience for many of the folks who watched NASA's webcast of the SpaceX Dragon's approach.

"I'm not going to lie, I'm a little choked up right now," Discovery News' Ian O'Neill wrote in a Twitter update. "But I suppose that happens when you watch history unfold."

The event marked the first time since the space shuttle fleet's retirement that a spaceship made in the USA linked up with the space station, and the first arrival of a private-sector ship at an orbital destination. If NASA has its way, this is what American spaceflight will look like for years to come. So take a good look at these pictures from the first Dragon flight to the space station. You'll be seeing a lot more like them.

NASA via Reuters

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen with part of the International Space Station in the foreground as it holds its position 30 meters (98 feet) away.

NASA via Reuters

Flight controllers at SpaceX Mission control in Hawthorne, Calif., work with the International Space Station crew as the Dragon commercial cargo craft goes through tests in advance of its capture and berthing.


The thermal imager on SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft provided this image of the International Space Station from 250 meters away.

The International Space Station's robotic arm captures the SpaceX Dragon capsule.


A camera on the International Space Station shows SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft, grappled by the station's robotic arm.


The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is held in place by the space station's robotic arm.

More about the mission:

Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.