SpaceX capsule carrying astronauts docks with space station

Yolanda Curtis
June 1, 2020

Hurley said he "couldn't be happier" about the performance of the Crew Dragon space capsule, which brought them to the space station less than a day after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 kilometers) above the China-Mongolia border.

"This is a flight to the International Space Station, not to Mars", he said on messaging app Telegram. It is the first time astronauts or cosmonauts have flown into space aboard a ship not built by a government agency.

Today at around 10:30 AM EDT (7:30 AM PDT), SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule will dock with the International Space Station, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.

The Crew Dragon launched into space atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday afternoon from Florida's Kennedy Space Center - from the same pad NASA first launched astronauts to the moon, over half a century ago.

In case of a problem, the astronauts slipped back into their pressurized launch suits for the docking. You can watch the docking live here on, courtesy of NASA TV.

Prior to docking, the astronauts took control of the Crew Dragon to test manual piloting of the craft in space, before putting Dragon back into its automatic docking mode.

The astronauts thanked everyone once the capsule was latched securely to the space station. The spacecraft is able to dock with a newer automated global docking adapter installed on the ISS, unlike the original cargo version of Dragon, which required manual capture by the robotic Canadarm 2 controlled by astronauts on the station.

When it returns to Earth, the Crew Dragon can't simply land on a runway like the space shuttle.

NASA turned to private industry to pick up the slack following the shuttle fleet's retirement, hiring SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 for space station taxi services.

The Russian space program is renowned for having sent the first man into space in 1961 and launching the first satellite four years earlier, and its achievements remain a major source of national pride.

Hurley says that while he and Behnken - along with others at Nasa - provided input, "this spacecraft - Crew Dragon - is SpaceX's design, from start to finish".

They will join USA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner aboard the ISS.

The last time a USA -built spaceship carried crew to the space station was in July 2011, during the final space shuttle mission. "But, in 2002, he began pouring tens of millions of dollars of his own money into research and development for a new rocket". They said the liftoff was pretty bumpy and dynamic, nothing the simulators could have mimicked.

The blue sequined toy dinosaur on board, named Tremor - a stowaway honouring their young sons' love of dinosaurs - was also in good shape, Behnken assured viewers. Both companies are focused on test missions, including abort system demonstrations and crew flight tests, ahead of regularly flying crew missions to the space station.

An old-style capsule splashdown is planned.

After liftoff, Musk told reporters that the capsule's return will be more risky in some ways than its launch.

"I'm breathing a sigh of relief, but I will also tell you I'm not gonna celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely".

"This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars", he said Saturday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Other reports by iNewsToday