UPDATE: The Dragon capsule was successfully captured at 9:56 a.m. EDT by NASA astronaut Don Pettit, using the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arm. SpaceX is the first private company to launch and dock a spacecraft at the ISS.

The Dragon capsule, the unmanned spacecraft that was launched on SpaceX's Dragon 9 rocket early Tuesday morning, will attempt to dock with the International Space Station on Friday.

If successful, it will be the first private spacecraft to fly to the ISS.

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  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft as it approaches the International Space Station Thursday May 24, 2012 for a series of tests to clear it for its final rendezvous and grapple on May 25. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship about 8:06 a.m., Friday with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following about 11:20 a.m. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft as it approaches the International Space Station Thursday May 24, 2012 for a series of tests to clear it for its final rendezvous and grapple on May 25. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship about 8:06 a.m., Friday with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following about 11:20 a.m. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2's video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship Friday morning with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    NASA Mission Control.

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    SpaceX Mission Control

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft as it flys over the coast of West Africa taken from Canadarm2's video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station early Friday May 25, 2012. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship early Friday morning with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following about 11:20 a.m. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2's video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship Friday morning with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the International Space Station taken from the thermal imaging camera aboard the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft as it approaches the International Space Station Thursday May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    Image from NASA TV showing view from Space Station.

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2's video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station Friday May 25, 2012. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship early Friday morning with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node following about 11:20 a.m. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, and Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, just after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, just after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, just after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • SpaceX Craft Successfully Docks At Space Station

    This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • In this April 29, 2012 photo provided by SpaceX, a SpaceX Dragon capsule on the company's Falcon 9 rocket is transported to a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, announced the latest delay Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The company did not set a new launch date. A Falcon rocket carrying a Dragon capsule was supposed to blast off from Cape Canaveral on Monday, May 7, 2012, but additional software testing was ordered. The test flight is already three months late. (AP Photo/SpaceX)

  • FILE - In this June 4, 2010 file photo, a halo forms around the top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket as launches from complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. A launch scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2012, will mark for the first time, a private company will send its own rocket to the orbiting International Space Station, delivering food and ushering in a new era in America's space program. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

  • SPACEX DRAGON

    Graphic explains the SpaceX Dragon capsule

  • Andre Kuipers, Donald Pettit

    In this April 20, 2012 NASA/European Space Agency photo, Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, left, and American astronaut Donald Pettit await the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon supply capsule after its scheduled launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. Private rocket maker SpaceX aimed for a Tuesday liftoff after fixing the engine problem that caused a launch abort over the weekend. If launched Tuesday, May 22, the Dragon will reach the space station Thursday and undergo a series of practice maneuvers from more than a mile out. Then on Friday, the capsule will fly within reach of the station's 58-foot robot arm, which will snare it and berth it to the orbiting lab. The arm will be operated by astronauts Pettit,and Kuipers, two of the six station residents. (AP Photo/NASA/European Space Agency)

  • 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. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

  • The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket is seen during a time exsposure as it lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday, May 22, 2012. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

  • This framegrab from NASA-TV shows the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on the launch pad at complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., seconds after the launch was aborted due to technical problems early Saturday May 19, 2012. The launch is rescheduled for Tuesday morning May 22, 2012 at 3:44 a.m. EDT (AP Photo/NASA)

  • CEO of SpaceX And Tesla Motors Makes Announcement On SpaceX's Latest Venture

    WASHINGTON - APRIL 5: Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp, pauses while speaking during a news conference at the National Press Club April 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) and Tesla Motors, held the news conference to announce SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket which could complete missions to the International Space Station and Moon and should be ready for use by the end of 2012. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

  • CEO of SpaceX And Tesla Motors Makes Announcement On SpaceX's Latest Venture

    WASHINGTON - APRIL 5: Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club April 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) and Tesla Motors, held the news conference to announce SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket which could complete missions to the International Space Station and Moon and should be ready for use by the end of 2012. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

  • US President Barack Obama(R) tours the S

    US President Barack Obama(R) tours the SpaceX launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 15, 2010. Obama traveled to Florida in a bid to soothe critics of his plan to scrap an over-budget Moon launch program and reshape NASA's future. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this Nov. 16, 2011, photo provided by NASA, the SpaceX Dragon capsule is lifted to be placed atop its cargo ring inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The first commercial cargo run to the International Space Station has been delayed again for more software testing. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, was aiming for a Monday, April 30, 2012, liftoff of its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule. But on Wednesday, May 2, the California-based company announced its latest postponement and said a new launch date had not been set. (AP Photo/NASA, Kim Shiflett)

  • US President Barack Obama tours SpaceX l

    US President Barack Obama tours SpaceX launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 15, 2010. Obama traveled to Florida in a bid to soothe critics of his plan to scrap an over-budget Moon launch program and reshape NASA's future. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Since entering orbit on Tuesday, the capsule has been examined to make sure it is fit to berth with the space station, undergoing tests on its thrusters and Absolute Global Positioning System, among others.

Early Thursday morning, the spacecraft successfully flew 1.6 miles below the space station.

Dragon began its approach to the space station around 3 a.m. EDT on Friday, according to NASA. Running slightly behind course, astronauts aboard the ISS will use the space station's robotic arm to grapple Dragon after 8 a.m. EDT, and the spacecraft will attach to the station.

The astronauts are expected to open Dragon's hatch -- a process that takes two hours -- early Saturday morning.

The Dragon spacecraft is carrying about 1,000 pounds of non-essential rations, including clothing, food, computer equipment and student experiments.

With the retirement of the space shuttle last summer, the United States no longer has a means of transporting astronauts or supplies to space, and currently relies on Russia and its Soyuz rocket and spacecraft to make the trips.

NASA awarded $381 million to SpaceX as part of a 2006 agreement, according to press materials from the company. SpaceX has spent $1 billion over the last decade, the Associated Press reports.

NASA has also awarded $266 million to Orbital Sciences Corp., a Virginia-based space technology company, which has a goal of launching a rocket and spacecraft by the end of the year.

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NASA finished inspection of the mating area of Dragon and confirms it's good to go.

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8:56am Central is official time of capture

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Astronaut Don Petit controlling robotic arm.

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NASA says controllers being polled now to see if it's okay for ISS arm to capture Dragon spacecraft.

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Richard Garriott: They may go for capture in the dark, but a daylight capture is generally preferred.

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From Richard Garriott: Right now they are holding 30 meters out. As soon as they are clear to come within 10 meters, they will come within reach of the robotic arm. They will hold at 10 meter and grab it, pulling it in for the final mating via this arm. In the future Dragon will be outfitted with automatic docking capability. Departing the 30 meter hold momentarily.

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From Richard Garriott: This image shows the manual visual check the astronauts onboard use to visually confirm that the Dragon is in the position the computers and telemetry state they are in.

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From private astronaut Richard Garriott: Dragon has reached the 30 minute hold point. It will now actively maintain that position until ready to close to 10m and be captured.

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No people, but lots of supplies and equipment. According to SpaceX, provisions includ:

 13 bags standard rations  5 bags low-sodium rations  Crew clothing  Pantry items (batteries, etc)  SODF and Official Flight Kit

 Food, about 117 standard meals, and 45 lowsodium meals

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From Richard Garriott: Now closing again on ISS, after narrowing its field of view to miss the reflector on the right edge of this scene on the Japanses KIBO module.

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From Richard Garriott: Space X will now command Dragon to tighten its field of view on the LIDAR system, so it will no longer pick up stray reflections from a reflector on the external palette attached to the Japanese module. Once they are focused on the correct sensors, then they can proceed to the 30 meter hold position for 30 minutes.

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Take a look at what's atop the counter.

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From Richard Garriott: As the ISS / Dragon approach the sunny side of the earth, things go from very dark to very bright. One of my strongest impressions and memeories from space was how the light side of things like the ISS in sunlight were so overly bright, and the shadow side was always so dark. Very unlike seeing things bathed in light on earth, where scatter lightens all sides of a scene somewhat.

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NASA says ISS and Dragon are heading over Canada and back into daylight.

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From private astronaut Richard Garriott: The Dragon got some lidar (light detection and ranging) data from the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) known as “Kibo” (Hope) modules reflector that differed from expected parameters. Thus they backed away, and are now looking for the best solutions to resume approach. Amazing that we are already doing so well, for such complex systems that cannot be really fully tested until live conditions such as this! We will be back in sunlight shortly.

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From Richard Garriott:

As this is the first approach of a new vehicle, they of course are being VERY conservative on the boundaries of continuing at all steps. As I mentioned just holding even near another object in space will often mean you are at risk of a collision, if you do not actively maintain separation. And this can happen fast, as in only about 22.5 minutes or ¼ of an orbit, two orbiting bodies near each other could collide without pushing away, as they both orbit the center of the earth.

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NASA says "retreat command" given to Dragon spacecraft. Says private astronaut Richard Garriott: "There must be some data out of bounds for command control or position."

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The ISS & Dragon are now on the shadow side of the earth, for the next 45 minutes or so. Here you can see the flashing light on capsule holding 100m or so from the station, as they continue to check systems before closing in on ISS.

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Interesting contrasts between the mission control centers of NASA and SpaceX. Interesting to see the “traditional mission control of NASA and the minimalist control room of Space X. Keyboards and monitors is all that is really needed these days!

NASA control room:

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