The spacecraft that SpaceX launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with four astronauts on it Sunday has safely docked at the International Space Station (ISS) late on Monday evening, according to various reports. NASA deliberately extended the free flight time of the crew dragon orbit, allowing the crew to sleep so that they would be fully awake, the ISS said.
This is only the second time the Crew Dragon has transported astronauts to the space station following a successful test flight over the summer with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
"I'm sure they would rather be here, given the opportunity, but hopefully they're proud of this as well".
Hopkins arrived with two fellow NASA astronauts, pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker, in addition to Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the US shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.
The four astronauts are joining two Russians and one American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan. We are humbled and we are excited to be part of this great expedition. At about 1:10 in the morning ET, the hatch opened, and NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover floated out of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, followed by JAXA (Japan's space agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, holding with him the crew's special helper: a Baby Yoda plush doll.
The ship had successfully taken off from Cape Canaveral (Florida) last Sunday in a reusable rocket Falcon 9 with the capsule Dragon on the cusp.
The Crew-1 mission is the first one to bring astronauts to the ISS for a long-duration on a commercial spacecraft. Crew 1 is the first operational flight of the spacecraft.
The agency will have spent more than $8 billion on the Commercial Crew programme by 2024, with the hope that the private sector can take care of NASA's needs in "low Earth orbit" so it is freed up to focus on return missions to the Moon and then on to Mars.
Black astronauts who have been on board the station previously were only there for short periods of time. They are joined by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the USA shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009. It will reuse the Crew Dragon Endeavor, which was first used on the SpaceX Demo-2 mission in May.