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'Please come aboard': SpaceX crew enter International Space Station after historic journey

Docking took place at 3.16pm Irish time and the astronauts entered some three hours later.

Updated May 31st 2020, 6:42 PM

Source: SpaceX/YouTube

THE ASTRONAUTS FROM the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule have now entered the International Space Station (ISS) to become members of the Expedition 63 crew.

The capsule docked with ISS at 3.16pm Irish time, 252 miles above the border with China and Mongolia.

Just over three hours later the two Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley crossed from their spacecraft into ISS.

Behnken and Hurley blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida yesterday and began a 19 hour journey towards the space station. 

Speaking after they came board, Behnken said they got some sleep during their journey to the space station: 

We did get probably a good seven hours or so, I did get an opportunity for sleep and Doug did as well. The first night is usually a bit of a challenge but the Dragon is a slick vehicle.  

Yesterday’s launch was the first time a private company had sent humans into space.

The astronauts docked with ISS about 14 minutes ahead of schedule with the capsule and ISS orbiting Earth at about 17,000 mph. 

Behnken is the mission’s joint operations commander and has responsibility for the rendezvous, docking and undocking of the Dragon capsule.

The two astronauts join the three other space station residents – Nasa’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

PastedImage-85211 Bob Behnken (second from right) and Doug Hurley (right). Source: NASA

Arriving at ISS, Hurley said: 

It’s been a real honour to be such a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station. We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX and at Kennedy Space Center for their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible. It’s an incredible time to be at Nasa.

The SpaceX launch was the first time astronauts had left from US soil since 2011. 

The reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket subsequently returned to a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean while the Dragon capsule continued its journey towards ISS. 

Ahead of the docking, the capsule travelled to Way Point Zero, about 400m below ISS, at 2pm this afternoon where it began the docking process.

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that he was “quite overcome with emotion” after yesterday’s launch.

“It’s been 18 years working towards this goal. “This is hopefully the first step on a journey towards civilization on Mars,” Musk said.

In a brief interview from space earlier, Hurley said that in keeping with the tradition of having astronauts name their spacecraft, he and Behnken had named the Crew Dragon capsule “Endeavour” after the space shuttle on which they both flew.

Behnken said the SpaceX capsule is a “lot different than its namesake” in that “it has touch display screens.”

The mission is dubbed Demo-2 and represents the final test flight before NASA certifies SpaceX’s capsule for regular crewed missions.

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Rónán Duffy

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