Published: Dec 08, 2010 4:50 PM EST
Updated: Dec 08, 2010 1:51 PM EST

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - A private company has launched a spacecraft in a bold demonstration test for NASA.

The Space Exploration Technologies rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning. The Falcon 9 is carrying a capsule named Dragon. The company, known as SpaceX, hopes to place the capsule in orbit and then bring it back to Earth three hours later. It will be the first time a commercial business tries to recover a spacecraft re-entering from orbit.

The plan is for Dragon to circle the world twice, then parachute into the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles off the Mexican coast.

NASA is hiring companies like SpaceX to haul supplies to the International Space Station following next year's shuttle retirement. Taxi trips for astronauts may follow.

--- Online: SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/

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