CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A sleek new American-built capsule with just a test dummy aboard docked smoothly with the International Space Station on Sunday, bring­ing the U.S. a big step closer to getting back in the business of launch­ing astronauts.

The white, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule, de­vel­oped by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company under contract to NASA, closed in on the orbiting station nearly 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean and, flying autonomously, linked up on its own, without the help of the robotic arm.

Dragon’s arrival marked the first time in eight years that an American-made spacecraft capable of carrying humans has flown to the space station.

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