Astronauts Welcome SpaceX's Crew Dragon to Space Station (Ripley and Earth, Too!)

NASA plans to put two astronauts aboard by the end of the year

NASA plans to put two astronauts aboard by the end of the year

SpaceX's Crew Dragon can now check another milestone off its list.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship docked with the International Space Station for the first time today, marking a successful uncrewed rehearsal of the procedure that astronauts will go through when they make their first arrival with the next flight.

Whether you're new to the spacecraft or an expert, The Planetary Society's Crew Dragon mission page is your go-to resource guide.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is the first commercially built and operated American spacecraft designed for human passengers to dock at the space station. That'll become crucial when NASA eventually sends astronauts up in Crew Dragon, which could happen as early as this summer, if all tests go as planned.

At about 5:00 EST (10:00 UTC), Crew Dragon reached Waypoint 1, a spot 150 meters away from the station's forward docking port on Node 2, also known as Harmony.

If the current unpiloted demonstration flight goes well and no major problems develop with other upcoming tests, SpaceX hopes to launch Behnken and Hurley in July for what will be the first piloted US space mission in almost eight years.

Minor snow this weekend with arctic air on the way
There could still be some residual slippery roads for the rest of the morning commute, so be ready to need extra time. The National Weather Service has issued a prediction for rain and snow in the Baltimore area Sunday after 1 p.m.

With Dragon on the ISS, cheers broke out at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

The white, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule, developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX company under contract to NASA, closed in on the orbiting station about 418 kilometres above the Pacific Ocean north of New Zealand and, flying autonomously, linked up. Now, slightly more than 24 hours later, the next phase of the test has played out.

After soft capture, Dragon's docking hardware automatically sealed itself with the station, completing a hard docking.

Dragon will remain at the space station until Friday, when it undocks and aims for a splashdown in the Atlantic, a couple hundred miles off the Florida coast. Following Saturday's launch, Behnken tweeted a note of congratulations to both SpaceX and the American space agency "for getting us another step closer to launching humans from American soil again!". The IDA was launched aboard Dragon 1 on the SpaceX CRS-9 mission.

Chris Ferguson, commander of the final shuttle flight and now a Boeing executive, will join two other NASA astronauts aboard the Starliner for the company's first piloted launch this fall.

Its Falcon 9 rockets have re-supplied the space station 15 times in seven years, even though one of them blew up in 2015. The Starliner is now due to make its first uncrewed test flight no earlier than April, and its first crewed flight no earlier than August. Astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets ever since NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011. In SpaceX's case, NASA has agreed to pay $2.6 billion for six round trips.

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