4 astronauts start their six-month keep on the By Reuters house station
© Reuters. NASA and SpaceX begin the commercial crew’s first operational mission
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four astronauts riding a redesigned spacecraft from Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company welcomed their new crew members aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday after successfully docking at a private space milestone.
In NASA’s first full-fledged mission to put a crew into orbit in a private spacecraft, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule known as Resilience opened shortly after 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), two hours after docking and 27 hours after launching on top, her hatch a Falcon 9 missile off Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“SpaceX, that’s Resilience. Excellent job. Right in the middle,” said Crew Commander Mike Hopkins of the spaceship after docking. “SpaceX and NASA, congratulations on this is a new era of operational flights to the International Space Station from the Florida coast.”
A few minutes later, the crew of three Americans and a Japanese astronaut emerged from the capsule and boarded the station. She greeted the existing crew of a US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts with hugs and high fives.
The space station, an orbital laboratory about 400 km above the earth, will be their home for the next six months. After that, they will be replaced by another group of astronauts on a Crew Dragon capsule. This rotation will continue until Boeing (NYSE 🙂 joins the program with its own spaceship at the end of next year.
NASA has been reliant on the Russian space program since 2011, when the US shuttle program ended.
Hopkins arrived with two other NASA astronauts, pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and made his third voyage into space after flying the US shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.
“The last 27 hours have been really smooth,” said Hopkins after boarding the space station. “We look forward to the next six months and can’t wait to get started.”
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