New York (CNN Business) – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft that launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center with four astronauts aboard Sunday night safely docked to the International Space Station (ISS) around 11 p.m. Miami time, of Monday.
The spacecraft glided toward the station, closing the gap before latching onto a port in the central ISS module. The event appeared to be slow for those who watched NASA’s live feed, but that’s because the spacecraft and the ISS were traveling roughly the same speed – over 17,000 miles per hour, the speed needed to sustain the objects. in orbit around the Earth.
The astronauts, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with the Japanese space agency, emerged radiants from the capsule about two hours later after a series of checks were carried out to ensure that the spacecraft and the ISS had a hermetic seal. They had been in the capsule for approximately 30+ hours.
The newly arrived astronauts shared hugs and greetings with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russians Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, who were already aboard the ISS. They arrived last month on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Historic mission of SpaceX and NASA
The secure docking marks the end of the first stage of a historic mission for NASA and SpaceX, which have been working together for a decade to return manned spaceflight capabilities to the United States and ensure that the billion-dollar ISS dollars, have a complete team.
As many as 13 astronauts were on board at the same time in 2009. But that number has occasionally dropped to three, leaving fewer people to help conduct experiments and help keep the space station healthy, according to NASA.
This also marks the first fully operational crewed mission for SpaceX, following a test mission in May that brought NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, both test pilots, to the space station for a short stay.
Milestone for astronaut Victor Glover
Glover’s inclusion in this mission, called Crew-1, has its own historical significance. Although more than a dozen black astronauts have traveled to space since Guion Bluford became the first to do so in 1983, Glover will be the first to become a full-time crew member of the ISS. This is also Glover’s first trip to space.
During a brief communication between mission control and astronauts on Monday afternoon, Mission Commander Hopkins asked ground control operators if they could see Glover smiling “because he hasn’t stopped since we’ve been here. ».
Earlier Monday, Hopkins also gave Glover his gold diamond-studded astronaut pin, which is awarded to all NASA astronauts who have traveled into space. Glover shared fist salutes with his crewmates and displayed the golden emblem, a star with three contrails surrounded by a halo, to viewers on the NASA live broadcast.
Crew-1 astronauts are expected to spend about six months aboard the ISS, where they will work on a variety of science experiments and conduct spacewalks to continue upgrades and repairs to the exterior of the space station.
Before returning home, they will be joined by another group of astronauts in a mission called Crew-2 that will launch in the first months of 2021.