The new SpaceX capsule with four astronauts on board has anchored with the International Space Station, the home of the crew for the next six months.
The Dragon capsule arrived at 11.01 p.m. ET after 27 hours, fully automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
The connection was made 262 miles (422 km) over Idaho.
“Oh, what a good voice to hear,” cried astronaut Kate Rubins when the Dragon commander, Mike Hopkins, first made radio contact. “We can’t wait to travel with you,” he added, as the two spacecraft were locked together.
As they prepared to connect to the space station, the Dragon crew shot New Zealand views in a live window and a bright blue, Pacific cloud 250 miles below.
“It looks amazing,” Mission Control said at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. “It looks amazing from here,” Hopkins replied.
This is the first time that Elon Musk’s company has delivered a full six-month stay at the station.
The three Americans and a Japanese astronaut will remain in orbit in the laboratory until their replacements arrive at another Dragon capsule in April. And so it will go, with SpaceX – and eventually Boeing – transporting astronauts to and from the NASA station in a kind of galaxy taxi service.
Hopkins and his crew – Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Sochi Nogchi – join two Russians and an American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan. Glover will be the first African-American to move for a long time. For the first time, Glover unveiled the astronaut’s gold pin on Monday.
The four named the capsule Resilience to offer hope and inspiration in a particularly difficult year for the whole world. They broadcast a tour of their capsule on Monday, showing the touch screen controls and storage spaces.
Walker said it was a little tighter for them than for the two astronauts on the test flight. “We dance to each other to stay off the road,” he said.
For Sunday’s release, Nasa kept visitors to a minimum due to the coronavirus, and even Musk had to stay away after tweeting that he “most likely” had an infection. He was replaced in office by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who assured reporters that he was still heavily involved in Sunday night’s action, albeit remotely.
As they prepared to connect to the space station, the Dragon crew pulled live New Zealand views and a bright blue, Pacific cloud 250 miles (400 kilometers) below.
“It looks amazing,” Mission Control sent a radio from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“It looks amazing from here,” Hopkins replied.