For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth. No private company has ever launched humans into orbit, and during a webcast of the launch, SpaceX employees could be seen packed into the main foyer of the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., cheering each milestone. NASA also sent more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station, including bulk overwrap bags containing more than 1,000 food and drink packages for the crew.
In a historic moment during a weekend of historic moments for spaceflight, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module forward port via "soft capture" at 5:51 a.m. EST Sunday, according to NASA.
The capsule is expected to reach the International Space Station and dock with it autonomously for the first time.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard liftoff on March 2, 2019.
As the capsule closed in on the space station, its nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth to expose the docking mechanism.
"Everything looks great", U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, who oversaw events from the station's big bay window, or Cupola.told Mission Control after looking inside Crew Dragon through a hatch window just before the crew entered. Ripley, on the other hand, will provide the astronauts with data on the potential effects on humans of travel aboard the Crew Dragon, using the sensors inside it.
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Two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, watched the spectacle from Kennedy's Launch Control.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said, "To be frank, I'm a little emotionally exhausted". Now Russian rockets are the only way to get astronauts to the 250-mile-high outpost.
Just two hours after the Dragon's grand entrance, the station crew entered to take air samples. Soyuz tickets have skyrocketed over the years; NASA now pays $82 million per seat.
"This is a good day - first day of a new era for the next generation of space explorer", Saint-Jacques said during a live broadcast of the welcoming ceremony.
"SpaceX and NASA teams are working side-by-side on this mission from start to finish as we have throughout this process". But the program has suffered delays as safety requirements are much more stringent for manned flights than for unmanned missions to deploy satellites. Boeing is looking to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew as early as April and with a crew possibly in August.