Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) – Four astronauts with SpaceX’s newly launched capsules were shuttled to the International Space Station on Monday, their new home by spring.
After a 27-hour delay, after a fully automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the Dragon capsule was due to the orbiting laboratory late Monday.
This is the second astronaut mission for SpaceX. But this is the first time Elon Musk’s company is giving 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.
Commander Mike Hopkins and his crew – Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – will join two Russians and an American who flew to the space station from Kazakhstan last month. Glover would be the first African-American to go on a long haul. For the first time ever, 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 broadcast a tour of his capsule on Monday showing the touchscreen controls and storage areas.
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 stay away after 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 too far along on Sunday night’s action, though far from it.
As they prepared for the space station linkup, the Dragon Crew descended over 250 miles of live New Zealand live window views and the spectacular blue, cloud-streaked Pacific.
“Looks amazing,” mission control radio from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“It looks amazing from here too,” Hopkins answered.
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