SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts docked with the International Space Station, home of the crew, for the next six months.
The Dragon capsule arrived at 11.01 pm ET after 27 hours, a fully automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After “sunset” there was a brief delay after throwing shadows in the docking area, making it more difficult for the crew to monitor the process.
The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 km) from 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.
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.
This is the first time Elon Musk’s company has given a crew for a full half-year station stay.
Three American and one Japanese astronauts will remain in the orbiting laboratory until their replacement on another dragon capsule in April. And so it will transport astronauts – and eventually Boeing – with SpaceX in a kind of galactic taxi service to and from the station for NASA.
Hopkins and his crew – Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – joined 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 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 too far along on Sunday night’s action, though far from it.
As they prepared for the space station linkup, the Dragon Crew gobbled down the New Zealand live window view and the spectacular blue, cloud-streaked Pacific 250 miles (400 km).
“Looks amazing,” mission control radio from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“It looks amazing from here too,” Hopkins answered.