The crew of the International Space Station welcomed US astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken after their privately built SpaceX capsule docked Sunday. "I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and Nasa teams for this significant achievement for the United States". "Today, the Dragon is extremely healthy", said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA's commercial crew program.
CENTER, Florida－A rocket ship built by Elon Musk's SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two U.S. astronauts on Saturday, ushering in a new era in commercial space travel and putting the United States back in the business of launching astronauts into orbit from home soil for the first time in almost a decade.
It's hoped companies other than tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX outfit will come in to expand the market.
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Crew Dragon will now make a "hard capture", which involves using 12 latches to create an air-locked seal between Behnken and Hurley's crew cabin and their entrance to the space station.
Known as NASA's SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. Hurley and Behnken had named their capsule "Endeavour" after the retired Space Shuttle on which they both flew. Bridenstine and other officials, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, have offered the successful launch as a hopeful inspiration to serve as a contrast to riots that have followed the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who died after a policeman knelt on his neck. But there have been delays in completing work on the spacecraft, as well as another that NASA is depending on for astronaut transportation, Boeing's Starliner capsule.
The reusable, gumdrop-shaped capsule called Crew Dragon would now take the two American astronauts to a 19-hour journey to ISS. They will join three crewmates already living onboard the ISS, Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanish, including NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. The astronauts took over manual control for a while, firing the thrusters to nudge the position of the spacecraft.
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Before opening the hatch and entering the station, Behnken and Hurley conducted a series of pressure and leak checks to ensure their safety.
"It's great to get the United States back in the crewed launch business and we're just really glad to be on board this magnificent complex", replied Hurley.
Watch SpaceX and NASA make history
In this still image taken from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, takes flight Saturday. It was the first manned spaceflight from USA soil since 2011 and the first-ever crewed flight for SpaceX. "We have done it".