US astronauts enter space station in milestone mission
01 June, 2020, 01:25
The goal of the trip is to complete the validation of human spaceflight operations for SpaceX hardware, which will pave the way for private companies to ferry astronauts to the ISS, ushering in a new era of commercial spaceflight. "Hard capture" docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete about two minutes later.
Next, the vestibule between the Dragon and the ISS will be pressurized and the hatch will be opened. Behnken was the first to enter the space station.
SpaceX has completed the first part of its historic crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday morning, when its Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting laboratory.
Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, NASA employees under contract to fly with SpaceX, are expected to remain at the space station for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the orbital laboratory.
Wearing black polo shirts and khaki trousers, they were greeted by fellow American astronaut Chris Cassidy, as well as Russian Federation cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
"Let's light this candle", commander Hurley said before liftoff, words used by Alan Shepard on America's first human spaceflight, in 1961.
NASA's astronauts then coasted through space for about 19 hours before reaching the ISS some 262 miles above Earth.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, said, "This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX".
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.
"This is hopefully the first step on a journey towards civilization on Mars", the SpaceX founder said.
Shortly after the bell rang on the space station to mark the arrival of the Crew Dragon capsule, Mr Cassidy said: "Dragon arriving".
At a rally held a short time later at NASA's massive 525-foot-high Vehicle Assembly Building, the president added his congratulations and an update on the astronauts.
The mission comes as the US copes with two crises simultaneously-with more than 100,000 people dead amid the ongoing coronaviruspandemic and a week of growing unrest over the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody, sparking violent clashes between police and protesters across the country.
"It's been way too long", Jim Bridenstine, the Nasa administrator, said of the launch.
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Behnken and Hurley blasted off from Launch Pad 39A, the same one used by Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11's 1969 journey to the Moon. But before signing off, they carried out what has become a tradition among USA spacefarers - the naming of their ship.
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