At 17:29, the Crew Dragon spacecraft of the private American company SpaceX successfully docked with the International Space Station, delivering its first crew to the ISS. The arrival of the astronauts was another milestone for the first manned Space X mission, which successfully launched yesterday, May 30, from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Now Crew Dragon crew members – NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley – intend to begin a long stay on board the ISS, which can last up to four months if everything goes well. They joined three station crew members: Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner.
“It was a great honor for me to become a small part of this nine-year work since the last docking of the US manned spacecraft with the ISS, – said Hurley after the docking. – We must congratulate men and women from SpacexHawthorne Mcgregor and the Space Center. Kennedy. “Their incredible efforts over the past few years to make this possible cannot be overestimated.”.
Docking Crew Dragon demonstrated one of the main features of the ship: its automated system. The transporter is designed to autonomously approach the ISS and capture a standard docking port without the participation of people. SpaceX successfully demonstrated this ability last year when it sent a test version of Crew Dragon to an unmanned space station. But this time, the company had to prove that Crew Dragon could cope with the task, having the most valuable cargo on board.
Auto docking is a significant improvement for Crew Dragon. The predecessor of the capsule, the Dragon cargo ship, did not have such a function when it delivered materials and food to the ISS. In all these cargo missions, astronauts aboard the ISS had to use the robotic manipulator of the station to grab the approaching cargo ship and place it in the docking port. This technique is known as mooring, and it requires a lot of work from the ISS crew members. The automated capabilities of Crew Dragon should help free up time to work on other things when new crews arrive.
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 31, 2020
The astronauts inside Crew Dragon still have the ability to take over manual control of the ship if necessary. Benken and Hurley tried out some manual flight tools (SpaceX opted for touch screens instead of traditional buttons and toggle switches) during their stay in space – once after launch and a second time when approaching the space station. SpaceX spacesuit gloves are compatible with touchscreens, which allows astronauts to interact with displays even in full gear. When the crew was 220 meters away from the ISS, Mr. Hurley demonstrated that he could drive a gloved vehicle, after which an automatic docking system came into play.
Arrival took place after the astronauts spent about 19 hours inside the Crew Dragon, revolving around the Earth. Having reached orbit, Benken and Hurley announced that they had named their capsule Endeavor (“Aspiration”): “We have chosen a name Endeavor for several reasons: one – because of this incredible NASA endeavorSpaceX and the United States since the end of the Space program Shuttle in 2011. Another reason we named the ship Endeavor“A little more personal for Bob and me. Our first flights were on Shuttle Endeavor“And that name means a lot to us”.
Before approaching the ISS, astronauts even slept a little: the ship turned out to be a rather convenient place to sleep. “We slept well last night, – Benken said before arriving on the ISS. – We were surprised, I think, by how well we actually slept aboard the ship: here it’s a bit quieter than on Space Shuttle and a little more environmentally friendly “. Space Dragon even has a toilet in case team members need to use the amenities during the flight (although the crew did not say if it was used).
Docking occurred around 17:29 Moscow time. And now it remains to wait a bit until the astronauts get on board the station: this will happen at about 19:45. And in another half hour there will be a small greeting ceremony.
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