The first crewed test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been welcomed onto the station by their new crewmates.
The pair made history on Saturday when they became the first crew members to be launched into space from American soil since the ending of the space shuttle program in 2011. They were launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard their SpaceX designed and built Crew Dragon.
The capsule docked with the ISS at 7:16 a.m. PT on Sunday, May 31. Once everything was secured and in place, the hatch between the capsule and the station opened at 10:02 a.m. PT, allowing Behnken and Hurley to enter the station.
To get there, Behnken and Hurley underwent a 19-hour journey during which they kept livestream viewers entertained with a tour of their spacecraft. Now they have arrived, the pair will stay on the station for between one and three months.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine underlined the significance of this achievement in a statement: “Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” he said.
“I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”
This is also a big achievement for SpaceX, which has launched crew on the first private spaceflight to orbit. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was celebratory about the mission: “This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” he said in a statement.
“It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA, and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”
Update May 31: Added information about hatch opening.