Elon Musk ‘Dragon’ spacecraft docks with International Space Station — NASA SpaceX SUCCESS

James Marshall
January 11, 2021

The mission is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) where the crew will be stationed for six months. (SpaceX/NASA)The Crew-1 Crew Dragon docked nearly exactly on schedule at 11:01 pm EST (04:01 UTC).

This time, the Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Near-flawless space station arrival now behind it, Crew Dragon has effectively kicked off what could be the longest continuous spaceflight of a crewed U.S. spacecraft in the history of American space exploration. It's the first time in history that the Federal Aviation Administration has licensed a human orbital spaceflight launch.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch two more crewed flights for NASA in 2021, including one in the spring, and four cargo refuelling missions over the next 15 months. The astronauts need not control the spacecraft while docking as Dragon has been doing it by itself.

Three Americans and a Japanese astronaut docked at the ISS on Tuesday aboard SpaceX's Resilience spacecraft after a smooth 27-hour journey. "Excellent job. Right down the center", he said.

The astronauts named their spacecraft Resilience to note the difficulties many Americans have faced in 2020.

Once aboard the ISS, the Dragon crew will join Ms Rubins and Russian astronauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkon.

Screengrab from NASA TV shows the commercially developed SpaceX Crew Dragon ship docked with the International Space Station. Dragon will pause approximately 400m (~1300 ft) from the space station and wait for ground and station teams to give it the go-ahead to continue to another stopped point 20m (65 ft) out.

Screengrab from NASA TV shows Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi waving aboard the International Space Station
Screengrab from NASA TV shows Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi waving aboard the International Space Station

A few minutes later, the crew of three Americans and one Japanese astronaut emerged from the capsule and boarded the station, greeting the existing crew of one USA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts with hugs and high-fives.

The new arrivals broadcast a video tour of their spacecraft, showing off different control equipment and storage areas.

Baby Yoda floats blissfully into the ISS on Monday night.

The three Americans and one Japanese astronaut will remain at the orbiting lab until their replacements arrive on another Dragon in April.

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, leapfrogged its much older rival Boeing, whose programme floundered after a failed test of its uncrewed Starliner past year.

The Dragon has completed 22 flights to and from the space station, according to SpaceX.

"This mission was a dream, to be able to have crew transportation services to the ISS, and today that dream became a reality", said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, during a press conference later the same day. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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