Wires

SpaceX cargo ship reaches International Space Station

* Capsule hauls supplies, ice cream, to orbital outpost

* SpaceX plans 11 more supply runs to space station

* Second U.S. supplier preparing to test rocket

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct 10 (Reuters) - Astronauts aboardthe International Space Station plucked a commercial cargo shipfrom orbit on Wednesday, a key maneuver in the first U.S. supplyrun to the orbital outpost since the retirement of thecargo-hauling space shuttles last year.

After a 2-1/2 day trip, Space Exploration Technologies'Dragon cargo ship positioned itself 33 feet (10 meters) awayfrom the $100 billion research complex, a project of 15countries, which has been dependent on Russian, European andJapanese freighters for supplies.

Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide then used the space station's58-foot (17.7-meter) long robotic arm to grab hold of a grapplefixture on the side of the capsule at 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT)as the spacecraft flew 250 miles (402 km) above the PacificOcean, off the coast of Baja California in northwest Mexico.

"Looks like we tamed the Dragon," commander Sunita Williamsradioed to Mission Control in Houston.

"We're happy she's on board with us. Thanks to everybody atSpaceX and NASA for bringing her here to us. And the ice cream,"she said.

The Dragon's cargo includes a freezer to ferry sciencesamples back and forth between the station and Earth. For theflight up, it was packed with chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream,a rare treat for an orbiting crew.

Williams and Hoshide were scheduled to berth the capsule toa docking port on the station's Harmony connecting module atabout 9:40 a.m. EDT (1340 GMT).

It is expected to remain attached to the station for about18 days while the crew unloads its cargo and fills it withscience experiments and equipment no longer needed on theoutpost.

The flight is the first of 12 planned under a $1.6-billioncontract NASA placed with privately owned Space ExplorationTechnologies, or SpaceX, to deliver cargo to the station.

The U.S. space agency's second supplier, Orbital SciencesCorp , plans to debut its Antares rocket later this year.A demonstration run to the station is planned for February orMarch.

NASA also is working with SpaceX, Boeing Co andprivately owned Sierra Nevada Corp to design space taxis thatcan fly crew to and from the station, with the goal of breakingRussia's monopoly on crew ferry flights by 2017.

(Reporting By Tom Brown and Xavier Briand)

((thomas.brown@thomsonreuters.com)(305 810 2688)(ReutersMessaging: thomas.brown.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: USA SPACE/SPACEX