Astronauts on Crew Dragon board the Space Station [video]

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, named “Resilience” carried three NASA astronaut and one JAXA astronaut to the International Space Station this week. The crew arrived at their destination on 17 November 2020.

The astronauts were carried into orbit on Tuesday in what NASA hopes would the be first of “many routine missions, ending US reliance on Russian rockets”.

Crew Dragon Resilience makes it to the space station

Docking with International space station

SpaceX’s “Resilience” crew capsule, carried into orbit by reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, docked autonomously with the space station at 04:01 GMT (6:01 South African Standard Time SAST) on Tuesday

After completing the 27.5-hour journey, the astronauts floated in zero gravity through a hatch and onto the ISS, where they were welcomed by the station’s three crew members.

The crew on the ISS currently consists of two Russians cosmonauts and one American astronaut, who will remain on the orbiting station for another six months.

NASA also confirmed that it’s the “first time the space station’s long-duration expedition crew size will increase from 6 to 7 crew members”.

Watch: Crew Dragon Resilience docking at the ISS

NASA chief of human spaceflight programs Kathy Leuders sent a video recording to the astronauts aboard the space station, with the following message:

“Thank you for letting me get to say hello to you all. I just want to tell you how proud we are of you.”

SpaceX confirmed that it would be launching two additional crewed flights in 2021, as well as cargo refuelling missions over the coming 15 months. Rest assured, we will have live streams ready to go when it happens.

What is ‘Launch America’

Back in August, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley (affectionately known as Bob and Doug) became the first astronauts to launch to the ISS from American soil in nearly a decade.

Up until then, all SpaceX’s trips to the ISS where for research and cargo refuelling purposes only. America had to rely on Russian Soyuz rockets since 2011, when the US shuttle programme disbanded.

Unfortunately, that arrangement worked out to $80 million per astronaut, per trip. The US have now partnered with SpaceX and Boeing, agreeing to approximately $7 billion for both companies “space taxi” business.

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