US astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, have docked with the International Space Station (ISS).
Read Also: 100-Year-Old Woman Beats COVID-19
Their Dragon capsule – supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company – edged them into port on the high-flying lab’s bow section.
Hurley and Behnken launched from Florida on Saturday, the first time since the retirement of the shuttles nine years ago that NASA, the US space agency, has sent up astronauts from home soil.
Read Also: India Evacuates 312 Citizens From Nigeria
Confirmation of the Dragon’s attachment at the ISS came at 14:16 GMT, slightly ahead of schedule, 422km (262 miles) above the border between northern China and Mongolia.
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
It was a fully automated process; Hurley and Behnken had no need to get involved – although they had practised some manual flying on approach.
The mission marks the beginning of a new era in which NASA will be purchasing transport services from the commercial sector. No more will it own and operate the vehicles that run to and from the station.
This will be done, as in this case, by firms like California’s SpaceX outfit, which is led by tech billionaire, Elon Musk.
SpaceX flew a first demonstration of its new crew vehicle last year, but that had only a dummy aboard. This sortie is the first to carry humans.
Hurley’s and Behnken’s job on the mission is to test all onboard systems and to give their feedback to engineers.
Earlier, the two astronauts named their Dragon ship in the time-honoured tradition of US spacefarers. They called it “Endeavour”, in part to celebrate the new course being set by Nasa and its commercial partners, but also to acknowledge the past contribution to American space efforts by Shuttle Endeavour, on which both Hurley and Behnken served in the late 2000s.