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Lift-off for private space rocket

A private company put a spacecraft into orbit yesterday in a test flight that Nasa hopes will lead to cargo runs to the International Space Station after its shuttles are retired next year.

The Nasa-backed mission is intended to test a new system for delivering cargo – and eventually crew – into space.

Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, carrying the company's first Dragon capsule. Two more test flights are planned.