NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken boarded the International Space Station Sunday in the historic Demo-2 mission with SpaceX.
The hatch was opened at 1:02 p.m. ET. After making final preparations, the astronauts were warmly welcomed aboard the orbiting space lab by fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, commander of the Space Station’s Expedition 63 and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Behnken was the first to enter the space station.
The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft made its ‘soft capture’ docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 am ET after an almost 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. The space station was 262 statute miles above the border of northern China and Mongolia when the docking occurred. “Hard capture” docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete about two minutes later.
During a welcome ceremony, Hurley said that the mission can serve as an inspiration at a difficult time when the world has been battling the coronavirus pandemic. “This is just one effect, that we can show for the ages, in this dark time that we have had over the last few months, to kind of inspire, especially these young people in the United States,” he said.
The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday. The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. An initial launch attempt was scrubbed on Wednesday as a result of bad weather.
The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit.
On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules.
Author: James Rogers