SpainX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft landed on the Spain station at 10:11 a.m. Saturday after a 19-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After initial contact with the ISS, Crew Dragon took several steps to further align the spacecraft with its port – including the ability to communicate with it before opening the first of the two hatches and creating an air-locked seal. Behanken and Harley are expected to board the space station for one to three months.
On Sunday morning, the spacecraft took care of the space station and then made a “soft capture” – meaning the crew made the first physical contact with the docking port on the Dragon International Space Station. The Crew Dragon then made a “hard capture” that used 12 latches to create an air-lock seal between Behenken and Harley’s crew cabin and their entrance to the space station, and connected the Crew Dragon’s power supply to the ISS.
Compared to the high drama of the launch on Saturday, the docking seems to be burning slowly.
At one point, the webcast host noted that the crew was moving the dragon at a fraction of a meter per second toward its destination, but that was only comparatively speaking: both the spacecraft and the space center were whipping into orbit at more than 17,000 miles per hour (about 27,000 kilometers per hour). However, as they were traveling at similar speeds, the cameras at the station looked as if the crew dragon was entering side by side.
The Crew Dragon has a name: Endeavor
Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley gave their crew a tour of the Dragon spacecraft using cameras as the car was heading to the International Space Station on Saturday evening.
Special Cargo: A shiny dinosaur
During their update from orbit on Saturday, the astronauts shared what happened: they both have little boys, who are huge fans of dinosaurs, and the astronauts who allowed their kids to vote will be given a toy in the game.
The selection was blue and pink, sequin-studded apatosaurus.
What does this milestone mean?
Crew Dragon and the astronauts have now made it through two major milestones – launch and docking – without facing any major problems. This is a huge victory for SpaceX, which has been working on the project since its inception in 2002.
This is a matter of celebration for NASA, which made the controversial decision to ask the private sector to design vehicles for transport to the ISS after retiring from the space shuttle program in 2011. NASA has long partnered with the private sector, but never before. The design, development and testing of a human-rated spacecraft is handed over to a commercial company.