Florida: Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have successfully disembarked the SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule and entered the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts entered the International Space Station on Sunday after a landmark 19-hour journey on the first crewed US spacecraft in nearly a decade, a triumph for SpaceX and private enterprise.
“We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX … their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible cannot go overstated,” NASA astronaut Bob Behnken said.
Their Dragon capsule – supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company – attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab 422km above China.
After a wait for leak, pressure and temperature checks, the pair disembarked to join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.
Two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, flew onboard a spaceship named Crew Dragon built by SpaceX, a company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk who also heads Tesla Motors which produces new-age automobiles. The rocket, named Falcon 9, which carried the spaceship into the orbit, was also built by SpaceX. The Florida launch facility used for the flight still belonged to NASA, however, and had previously been used to launch American spaceships including the Apollo missions that took human beings to moon. The mission was called Demo-2, in keeping with the fact that it was still only a ‘test flight’, which if successful, would lead to more missions in the coming months.
For NASA, it was the first flight of its astronauts on an American spaceship, launched on American soil, after nine years.