SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully docked with the International Space Station approximately 19 hours after launch at 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time from Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center,Florida on Saturday, May 30th .
SpaceX crew Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken were thrilled to arrive at their temporary home and were welcomed by ISS crew members, Commander of the Space Station, NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, and Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin.
SpaceX has the honor of being the first private space company to fly human beings to orbit. Behnken and Hurley were the first astronauts to launch to orbit from Untied States of America in almost nine years since the space shuttle program retired. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was also the first crewed launch for the space company in collaboration with NASA.
Crew Dragon’s flight data will be used to certify that the spaceship meets NASA’s requirements and safety standards for routine flights ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
SpaceX has plans to use the spaceship for space tourism, and for missions by other nations. The next scheduled mission will carry three NASA astronauts and one from the Japanese space agency.
NASA administrator, James Frederick Bridenstine said everything went as expected and addressed the astronauts from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, stating they were so proud of everything the astronauts have done for The United States of America, and for inspiring the world. President Donald Trump expressed that SpaceX’s epic first crew launch marked the dawn of a new era in spaceflight.
During the 19-hour flight, NASA astronauts christened the spaceship Endeavour, in honor of the last space shuttle both men flew on. Endeavour is also the name of the British sailing ship captained by James Cook exploring the Pacific Ocean. The mission will be complete after Behnken and Hurley return to Earth after an estimated 110-day residence aboard the International Space Station.
Behnken and Hurley stay aboard ISS was initially scheduled for a couple of weeks, enabling them to conduct scientific research and test capabilities of the spaceship which also serves as a shelter in case of emergency. They will assist with refurbishment of the ISS, installing new lithium ion batteries that arrived in a Japanese cargo ship.
Spaceship Endeavour (Dragon Crew) is currently certified for four months in space, considering the spacecraft’s solar panels would decrease in efficiency over time and would not be able to generate enough power to safely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Periodic checking of the spacecraft’s solar panel to check their resilience could mean the mission will be extended beyond four months.
Behnken said Endeavour (Crew Dragon) spaceship felt “alive”, proved to be a sleek vehicle with smooth ascent and flight, powering through space and passing all of its tests. They assumed manual control while docking to test the spaceship controls, arriving at the ISS fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, firing thrusters to coax the spaceship into the docking bay during soft capture latching. Docking was then overridden to computer control for the hard capture latching at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
The final steps of pressure equalization between the capsule and ISS, verifying for air leaks and plugging into the outpost power systems lasted approximately three hours after which NASA astronauts safely entered the orbiting space station. Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s commercial crew program reported no major problems on the mission.