[imagesource: NASA TV]
There were some emotional scenes in space this past weekend, as SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday.
The recycled SpaceX Dragon capsule was carrying four astronauts, and this is the third time SpaceX has safely delivered humans to the orbital outpost.
Endeavour, as the spacecraft has been named, locked on at around 11AM South African time, with the four astronauts joining the last crew of four sent by SpaceX, as well as three Russian cosmonauts.
The spacecraft had lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida almost 24 hours earlier.
More from The Washington Post on how the docking went down:
…the spacecraft aligned itself with one of the station’s docking ports and parked itself. The maneuvers were directed completely by the spacecraft’s computers.
Controllers on the ground and the astronauts on board the capsule and the station monitored closely, but the computers were in control.
The two crafts were then locked together by a dozen hooks. The astronauts then ensured that the seal between spacecraft and station was tight and that the air pressure inside the spacecraft and the station was the same. Then they opened the hatch and crossed into the station.
Once they did that, there was a warm welcome waiting for them:
Here’s a lengthier, unedited video of the moment of arrival:
There’s always that one person that has to film or take photos with an iPad.
In this video, shared by the ISS, you can see the spacecraft approaching, and then docking:
#ICYMI: The @SpaceX #CrewDragon Endeavour launched from Florida and docked to the station one day later carrying four astronauts to their new home in space. More… https://t.co/gmlUpB9y2p pic.twitter.com/2p3NJbyozs
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) April 26, 2021
With 11 people aboard, the ISS is a little more crowded than usual, but there are a number of history makers.
It was the first SpaceX mission involving a European, astronaut Thomas Pesquet of France, who hailed the spirit of international cooperation.
“It’s been 20 years… since JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and ESA (European Space Agency), and NASA and Russian astronauts have been together in space, so it’s actually pretty historic what’s happening today,” he said…
It was the first time a capsule was reused and the first time a rocket was reused, key cost-saving goals of NASA’s partnerships with private industry.
The three other crew members who arrived this weekend were Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of the United States, as well as Akihiko Hoshide of Japan.
The crew is scheduled to stay at the station for around six months, during which time they will perform science experiments and station upgrades.
Enjoy those views.
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