SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Successfully Docks With International Space Station

Another landmark event for NASA and SpaceX

Crew Dragon
Crew Dragon, about to dock.

A landmark in space exploration took place earlier today. On Saturday, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully took off from Kennedy Space Center; earlier today, it successfully docked with the International Space Station. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the ISS earlier today, capping off a lengthy and highly-watched process. As NASA’s discussion of the launch notes:

This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

CNN’s report on the docking offers more details — including what sounds like a smooth process of linking up the capsule and the space station:

After making initial contact with the ISS, Crew Dragon went through a series of steps to further mate the spacecraft with its port — including linking power and creating an air-locked seal — before first of two hatches were opened. Behnken and Hurley are expected to remain on board the space station for one to three months.

The astronauts dubbed the Crew Dragon capsule that they used Endeavour — a tribute to both the Space Shuttle where both men began their careers in space exploration.

At The Verge, Loren Grush’s report on the docking notes that the biggest question mark for today — Crew Dragon’s automated docking system — went smoothly. It’s a significant step up from its predecessor, SpaceX’s Dragon, which was unable to automatically dock with the ISS.

For observers of crewed spaceflight, today’s docking was another impressive step forward — and a suggestion of more advances to come.

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