WATCH: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Astronauts Enter International Space Station

Sourced from CNET.

SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station, bringing the companies first crew to the orbiting platform. The crew’s arrival completes another part for SpaceX’s first crewed mission with the Crew Dragon, which successfully blasted off on 30 May from world-famous lift-off point Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Crew Dragon’s passengers — NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — are set to begin an extended stay on board the ISS that could last up to four months. They will join three crewmates already living on board the station: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, according to The Verge.

Watch in the video below how astronauts Behnken and Hurley exit the Crew Dragon and greet the three astronauts on board the station. The amazing thing is that this takes place only a relative few hours after launch (19 hours in total from lift-off). The astronauts, Behnken and Hurley, remove their suits and simply wait for the ISS latch to open as they ensure that all safety precautions are in place, maintaining communication with Mission Control.

The footage is a glimpse into the goings-on in the ISS, as well as the future of space travel for humans. With advancements in safety and automation, the boarding of the Crew Dragon was smooth and somewhat mundane. This bodes well for the future of crewed flights to space.

The video is an archived Livestream of the launch, the docking and aftermath of the Crew Dragon’s flight to the ISS.

“It’s been a real honour to be a small part of this nine-year endeavour since the last time a United States spaceship docked with the International Space Station,” Hurley says, the grey-haired astronaut, after docking completed. “We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX, at Hawthorne McGregor and at Kennedy Space Center. Their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible can not go overstated.”

The Crew Dragon’s docking showcased one of the biggest features of SpaceX’s capsule: its automated docking system. The vehicle is designed to autonomously approach the ISS and latch on to a standardized docking port, without any input from its human passengers. This can be seen in the early parts of the video, as the Dragon slowly approaches the station. The footage in space is actually quite incredible. The Dragon is mounted with many cameras and at times the video seems like something out of a sci-fi movie.

This automated docking capability is a significant upgrade for the Crew Dragon. The predecessor to the capsule, SpaceX’s cargo Dragon, did not have this capability when it delivered supplies and food to the ISS. For all of those cargo missions, astronauts onboard the ISS had to use the station’s robotic arm to grab hold of an approaching cargo Dragon and bring it onto a docking port. While the Crew Dragon is capable of automatic docking, it also has a manual guiding option for the astronauts.

SpaceX and the Crew Dragon will now have a few months of reprieve as the first half of the test is complete. The crews will perform checks of the Crew Dragon while it’s docked at the ISS, but it will mostly remain inert, like a parked car in a lot. When the time comes for Behnken and Hurley to return home, all eyes will be on the Crew Dragon’s performance once again.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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