NASA Astronauts Successfully Dock SpaceX Crew Dragon at ISS
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The pair, whose original Wednesday send off was scrapped due to weather, took off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, arriving at the ISS 19 hours later. They join Expedition 63 crew members Chris Cassidy, Antoly Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner for research, operations, and maintenance.
Following a "soft capture," in which Crew Dragon made its first physical contact with the ISS, the "hard capture" deployed a dozen latches to create an air-locked seal between the spacemen and the station entrance. Behnken and Hurley emerged around 1:15 p.m. ET, according to CNN. "The Dragon was a slick vehicle, and we had good airflow, so we had an excellent, excellent evening," Hurley said.
In a "Tour from Space" video filmed aboard the Crew Dragon on its way to the ISS, Hurley revealed that he and Behnken were "given the honor to name this capsule"—a job they took seriously and personally. "I know most of you, at SpaceX especially, know it as Capsule 206," he said. "But I think all of us thought that we could maybe do a little bit better than that. So, without further ado, we would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour."
The name first and foremost recognizes "this incredible endeavour" NASA, SpaceX, and the United States has been on since the end of the spaceflight program, Hurley explained. But it also alludes to NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour, on which Behnken and Hurley took their first flights. "It just meant so much to us to carry on that name," Hurley continued. "That's what we decided to go with. So we hope you enjoy that name."
Watch the full video online for a tour of the spacecraft—a key part of this history-making event marking the first launch of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
"This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX," chief engineer Elon Musk said in a statement. "It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA, and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen."
The mission is expected to last one to three months, or a maximum of 110 days. Once complete, SpaceX's Crew Dragon will undock from the station, de-orbit, and return Behnken to Earth. During their ISS stay, the astronauts will run tests on the capsule, ensuring it is capable of future missions that may see it connected to the station for up to 210 days.