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SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule carrying NASA astronauts docks with the International Space Station


SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with the International Space Station on May 30, 2020.

NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The inaugural SpaceX astronaut mission successfully completed the first leg of its journey on Sunday, docking with the International Space Station.

“It’s been a real honor to be just a small part of this nine year endeavor since the last time the United States has docked with the International Space Station,” NASA astronaut Bob Behnken said, speaking from the spacecraft.

“We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX … their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible cannot go overstated,” Behnken added.

Docking was completed at 10:30 a.m. ET, while passing in orbit over the northern border of China and Mongolia. Behnken and Doug Hurley will then disembark Crew Dragon and join the three crew currently on board the International Space Station.

“Crew of Expedition 63 is honored to welcome Dragon and the Commercial Crew program aboard the International Space Station,” NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy said from inside the space station.

“You’ve completed a historic ride to the ISS and have opened a new chapter in space exploration,” NASA’s mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston said

Elon Musk’s company launched the pair of astronauts on Saturday afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft to orbit. The two astronauts then spent just under 19 hours travelling to the space station.

The mission is known as Demo-2, as its the second and final test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft before SpaceX begins flying astronauts every few months. The capsule is the first privately designed and built spacecraft to carry astronauts to space. 

Beyond the achievement for SpaceX, the launch represents the first time NASA has launched its own astronauts since the end of the space shuttle program nearly a decade ago.

This is the third time both Behnken, 49, and Hurley 53, have been to space, as both flew on previous space shuttle missions. They will spend up to four months on board the space station before beginning their second leg of the journey, when Crew Dragon will undock and carry them back down to Earth. SpaceX plans to splash the spacecraft down in the Atlantic Ocean when it returns.

SpaceX’s competitor Boeing even congratulated the company, noting the historic moment.

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