Rocket launched from Va. arrives at International Space Station

Posted at 12:24 AM, Sep 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-30 00:24:03-04

NEW YORK (CBS News) -- History was made Sunday morning when the Cygnus supply ship docked with The International Space Station.

This is the first time a craft launched from Virginia made it to the station. And the ship is likely to be just one of many launched from the Commonwealth as the U.S. uses private companies to continue exploring space.

An upgraded, more powerful Falcon NINE rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday. SpaceX said it is a test flight to assured NASA the company could soon deliver people as well.

It's a major milestone for NASA and the International Space Station project.

CBS News Space Consultant, Bill Harwood, said NASA has been paying around $60 million a seat to fly astronauts on the Soyuz spacecraft.

"It's really not about the money. It would be cheaper to continue flying with the Russians," said Harwood. "NASA wants a U.S. rocket -- one way or the other -- and a U.S. spacecraft to launch American astronauts to the space station. It is a sign of pride. It's a symbol of super power status."

Harwood said the last shuttle mission in July 2011, left the space station over stocked deliberately so that NASA would not need help getting cargo to the space station until now.

Sunday morning, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation's cargo ship, Cygnus, successfully docked at the space station.

"When NASA knew they were going to retire the shuttle, they knew they had to replace is ability to carry cargo to the space station," Hardwood explained. "SpaceX is already flying cargo missions to the station. Now with this successful test flight, Orbital joins the game. And that's a big deal to NASA. They need both of these spacecraft to keep the space station supplied and operational."