A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule caught up with the International Space Station early Saturday and glided in for a picture-perfect docking, bringing 4 recent astronauts to the outpost and setting the stage for 4 others to return to Earth subsequent week aboard a second SpaceX ferry ship.
Completing a computer-orchestrated rendezvous that started Friday with a launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the “Crew-2” capsule approached the station from behind and under, looping up to some extent instantly forward of the lab whereas each spacecraft streaked by way of space at greater than 17,000 mph.
That’s quick sufficient to cowl greater than 80 soccer fields in a single second, however the rendezvous appeared to play out in sluggish movement because the Crew Dragon inched nearer and nearer with a exactly calculated, barely totally different velocity.
Captured in spectacular readability by high-definition cameras on the station, the Crew Dragon moved in for docking on the Harmony module’s ahead port at 5:08 a.m. ET, just some ft away from a space-facing port the place one other Crew Dragon is docked.
After in depth leak checks to confirm an hermetic structural seal, hatches had been opened, security programs configured and Crew-2 commander Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japanese flier Akihiko Hoshide floated into their new dwelling in space.
They had been welcomed aboard by Crew-1 astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi — launched to the lab final November — and Soyuz MS-18 commander Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov and Mark Vande Hei. They arrived April 9.
“We are happy eleven on #ISS,” Noguchi tweeted. “Welcome back to home away from home for 6 months!!!!!!”
— NOGUCHI, Soichi 野口 聡一（のぐち そういち） (@Astro_Soichi) April 24, 2021
Crowded collectively for a short welcome ceremony, the expanded crew was congratulated by NASA’s performing administrator, Steve Jurczyk, who stated “it is awesome to see the 11 of you on station. It’s incredible.”
“So congratulations,” he stated. “Also want to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX team for our third commercial crewed mission in less than a year. It was really cool during docking to see one Dragon docked on the zenith port and the other Dragon coming in.”
The Crew-2 ship that carried Kimbrough and firm to the station first flew final 12 months in a piloted check flight that introduced McArthur’s husband, Robert Behnken, to the lab complicated alongside with Douglas Hurley.
In one other first, the Falcon 9 first stage booster that propelled the refurbished Crew-2 capsule into space is similar rocket that launched the Crew-1 Dragon to the station final 12 months.
“We’re just really excited to be here and be part of this historic mission with the two Dragons on board, first reuse of a capsule, first reuse of a booster,” McArthur stated. “It’s just a tremendous achievement on behalf of our partner, SpaceX. So I want to congratulate and thank them. We’re ready to get to work.”
The Crew-2 astronauts are changing Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi, who had been launched to the station final November aboard the Crew-1 Dragon.
After a four-day “direct handover,” familiarizing Kimbrough and his crewmates with station operations and security procedures, the Crew-1 astronauts will undock from Harmony’s higher port early Wednesday. Splashdown within the Gulf of Mexico south of Tallahassee, Florida, is predicted at 12:40 p.m.