SpaceX has become the first company to design, build, launch and now dock a commercial spacecraft made for people flying to the International Space Station.
The Elon Musk rocket company launched the seven-seat vehicle, called Crew Dragon, on Saturday at 2:49 a.m. ET. Early on Sunday morning, the 14,000-pound space capsule had reached the laboratory the size of a football field orbiting the Earth.
After a series of security checks, SpaceX began pushing Crew Dragon toward the front of the space station. At 5:51 a.m. Eastern time, made soft contact with a coupling node, coupled six arms and latched on. About 11 minutes later, the spacecraft was firmly screwed to Node 2 of the space station.
No one was aboard to open the Crew Dragon hatch, only 400 pounds of cargo and a crash test woman named “Ripley.” However, NASA says that the SpaceX demonstration or the Demo-1 mission was “a critical first step” to restore access to space with US crews. Since the objective is to demonstrate that the new spacecraft is safe to fly with its astronauts.
“A new generation of space flights begins now with the arrival of Crew Dragon from @ SpaceX to @Space_Station,” Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA, wrote Sunday. “Congratulations to all for this historic achievement that brings us closer to the flight of American astronauts in American rockets.”