Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) – SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts arrived at their new home by the International Space Station, spring on Monday.
After a fully automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the Dragon capsule was pulled and docked late Monday night, after 27 hours. The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 kilometers) above Idaho.
Oh, what a nice sound when space station astronaut Kate Rubins called Dragon commander Mike Hopkins to radio contact for the first time.
“We can’t wait to have you on board,” he said after the two spacecraft were abandoned simultaneously.
This is the second astronaut mission for SpaceX. But this is the first time Elon Musk’s company gave a crew for a full half-year station stay. Earlier this year the two pilot test flight lasted two months.
Three American and one Japanese astronauts will remain in the orbiting lab until another dragon arrives in April. And so it will transport astronauts further from the station with SpaceX – and eventually Boeing – to NASA.
This regular taxi service was running with the start of Sunday night.
Hopkins and his crew – Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – include two Russians and an American who flew to the space station from Kazakhstan last month. Glover is the first African-American to step into the long haul. A space newcomer, Glover was presented his gold astronaut pin on Monday.
The four named their capsule Resilience to provide hope and inspiration for the entire world during a particularly difficult year. He aired a tour of his capsule on Monday, showing touchscreen controls, storage areas and his zero gravity indicator: a small plush baby Yoda.
Walker said it was a bit tight for him to compare the two astronauts in the test flight.
“We dance around each other to stay out of the way of each other,” she said.
For early Sunday, NASA kept guests to a minimum due to coronovirus, and even Musk had to abstain from tweeting, as he was “most likely” transitioned. He was replaced in his official launch duties by SpaceX president Gwenne Shotwell, who assured reporters that he was still too far along on Sunday night’s action, though far from it.
As they prepared for the space station linkup, the Dragon crew plunged over 250 miles of live New Zealand live window views and the spectacular blue, cloud-streaky Pacific.
“Looks amazing,” mission control radio from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“It looks amazing from here too,” Hopkins answered.
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