- A SpaceX capsule carrying 4 astronauts docked at the International Space Station, their new place until spring.
- The SpaceX returned four of the station’s inmates on Monday after the launch of the new arrivals was repeatedly postponed.
On Thursday, a SpaceX capsule carrying 4 astronauts docked at the International Space Station, their new place until spring.
The voyage from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the gleaming outpost took 21 hours.
According to Raja Chari, commander of the Dragon capsule, when the one German and three American astronauts first glimpsed the space station 30 kilometres away, it was an emotional moment.
“Floating in orbit and gleaming like a diamond,” German astronaut Matthias Maurer observed. “We’re all overjoyed, overjoyed.”
The whole flight of the Dragon was automated, with Chari and pilot Tom Marshburn monitoring the capsule systems and ready to take control if needed.
They reported seeing what seemed to be a “gnarled knob” or possibly a small mechanical nut floating through their camera’s field of view at one point, but SpaceX Mission Control claimed it was not a cause for concern. The docking took place 423 kilometres above the east coast of the Caribbean.
Instead of the anticipated seven astronauts, the station’s welcoming committee comprised three. This is because SpaceX returned four of the station’s inmates on Monday after the launch of the new arrivals was repeatedly postponed.
“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see these cheerful faces,” NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei remarked after embracing each of the arrivals. “Every one of us, all seven of us, our friends, and we’re going to become even greater friends as time goes on.”
Vande Hei and one of the two Russians on spacecraft are halfway through a one-year mission that won’t end until March.
While Chari, Maurer, Marshburn and NASA astronaut Kayla Barron were adjusting to weightlessness — all but Marshburn are first-timers in orbit — the previous crew was adjusting to life on Earth. “Gravity stinks, but I’m getting used to it,” Japanese astronaut Akihoki Hoshide tweeted.
The new squad will spend the upcoming six months on the space station and will welcome two visiting visitors during that time. Russia will launch the first batch in December, followed by SpaceX in February.
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