SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully docks with the space station

This morning, SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International space platform , bringing the company’s first crew to the orbiting outpost. Their arrival marks another major milestone for SpaceX’s first crewed mission of the Crew Dragon, which successfully took off yesterday, May 30th, from Cape Canaveral , Florida.

Now, the Crew Dragon’s passengers — NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — are set to start an extended stay board the ISS that would last up to four months. they're going to join three crew mates already living on board the station: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.


“It’s been a true honor to be alittle a part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a us spaceship docked with the International space platform ,” Hurley said after docking completed. “We need to congratulate the lads and ladies of SpaceX, at Hawthorne McGregor and at Kennedy Space Center. Their incredible efforts over the last several years to form this possible can't go overstated.”

The Crew Dragon’s docking showcased one among the most important features of SpaceX’s capsule: its automated docking system. The vehicle is meant to autonomously approach the ISS and latch on to a uniform docking port, with none input from its human passengers. SpaceX successfully showcased this ability last year when the corporate sent a test version of the Crew Dragon to the space platform without a crew on board. But this point , the corporate needed to prove that the Crew Dragon could deliver when it had its most precious cargo on board.

This automated docking capability may be a significant upgrade for the Crew Dragon. The predecessor to the capsule, SpaceX’s cargo Dragon, didn't have this capability when it delivered supplies and food to the ISS. For all of these cargo missions, astronauts on board the ISS had to use the station’s robotic arm to grab hold of an approaching cargo Dragon and convey it onto a docking port. That technique is understood as berthing, and it requires tons of labor from the astronauts on board the ISS. The Crew Dragon’s automated capabilities should help release time for the astronauts to figure on other things when new crews arrive.

Astronauts flying inside the Crew Dragon still have the potential to require over manual control of the vehicle if necessary. In fact, Behnken and Hurley tried out some manual flying during their time in space — once after launching and a second time during their approach to the space platform . Flying the vehicle manually involves interfacing with the Crew Dragon’s sleek interior touchscreen displays. The gloves of SpaceX’s pressure suits are touchscreen-compatible, allowing the astronauts to interact with the screens while suited up if necessary. When the crew need to 220 meters out from the ISS, Hurley demonstrated that he could fly the vehicle while gloved before the automated docking system took over. The plumes from the capsule’s tiny thrusters might be seen from the space station’s cameras because the vehicle inched toward the ISS.

Their docking comes after the astronauts spent about 19 hours inside Crew Dragon orbiting around Earth, following Saturday’s launch. After reaching orbit, Behnken and Hurley announced that that they had named their capsule Endeavour. “We chose Endeavour for a couple of reasons: one, due to this incredible endeavor NASA, SpaceX, and therefore the us has been on since the top of the Shuttle program back in 2011,” Hurley said during an occasion right after launching to space. “The other reason we named it Endeavour may be a little more personal to Bob and that i . We both had our first flights on Shuttle Endeavour, and it just meant such a lot to us to hold thereon name.”

During the journey in space, Behnken and Hurley got some shut-eye before approaching the ISS to urge a far better sense of what sleeping on the Crew Dragon is like. It seems , it’s a cushty place for a nap. “We had an honest night’s sleep last night,” Behnken said during an occasion before arriving at the ISS. “We were surprised, I think, in how well we actually slept aboard the vehicle — a touch bit quieter than the spacecraft , a touch bit more environmentally controlled.” The Crew Dragon also sports a rest room just in case they needed to use the facilities during the trip (though the crew didn't say if they used it).


Docking happened around 10:29AM ET this morning, and now it’s a touch little bit of a wait before Behnken and Hurley exit the vehicle. The astronauts will open the hatch of the Crew Dragon at around 12:45PM ET. The crew will then host alittle welcoming ceremony about half-hour later.

Now that Behnken and Hurley have received the ISS, it’s unclear when they’ll be coming home. the 2 are expected to remain somewhere between six and 16 weeks on board the ISS. It all depends on what proportion work NASA wants them to try to to while they’re up there. At some point, NASA will decide when to bring the duo home. That’s when Behnken and Hurley will climb back inside the Crew Dragon and take the plunge back to Earth.

The Crew Dragon is provided with a protective covering to guard astronauts from the scorching trip through Earth’s atmosphere. It also sports four parachutes designed to assist lower crews gently down into the Atlantic , where they’ll be recovered by a SpaceX vessel. That intense journey are going to be the ultimate test of the Crew Dragon for NASA as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, the initiative to fly NASA astronauts on private vehicles to and from the space platform .

For now, SpaceX and therefore the Crew Dragon get a small reprieve because the half of this significant test mission is complete. The crews will perform checks of the Crew Dragon while it’s docked at the ISS, but it'll mostly remain inert, sort of a parked car during a lot. When the time comes for Behnken and Hurley to return home, all eyes are going to be on the Crew Dragon’s performance once more .

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