‘Dawn of a new era’: SpaceX Dragon astronauts now aboard International Space Station

HOUSTON – After a historic launch Saturday, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday.

The spacecraft carried astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who are the first space-faring Americans to be launched into orbit from U.S. soil since the end of the shuttle program in 2011.

This is also the first time a commercial spacecraft has carried humans into space.

Here is a recap of our coverage of the crew’s arrival at the station.

1:50 p.m. - Mission continues

The arrival of the SpaceX Dragon capsule at the International Space Station was just another step in the Demo 2 mission. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will spend a week or two aboard the ISS to evaluate the Dragon spacecraft to ensure it is safe to use for a return to Earth. Once Dragon is declared operational, Hurley and Behnken will return to Earth.

1:34 p.m. - Victory lap

Standing in front of a spent SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that has been installed at Space Center Houston, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine along with political allies took touted the results unity and bipartisanship can bring after the SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully delivered astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.

NASA update on Demo 2

NASA officials provide update on Demo 2 mission after Dragon arrives at ISS.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Dragon was part of the Demo 2 mission by NASA, which aimed to show that a commercial spacecraft can be used to deliver humans to low-Earth orbit. The goal is for NASA to become a customer of these companies instead of a provider, allowing the agency to focus on long-term missions to the moon and Mars.

12:56 p.m. - Replay of arrival coverage

If you missed the docking and arrival of the SpaceX Dragon capsule at the International Space Station, you can watch a replay below.

Dragon approaching ISS

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is approaching the International Space Station.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Sunday, May 31, 2020

12:43 p.m. - ‘Dawn of a new era’ thanks to a ‘team effort’

The Demo 2 mission represents the “dawn of a new era” in manned spaceflight, NASA officials said during a ceremony welcoming Hurley and Behnken aboard the ISS. Hurley said that while he and Behnken were thrilled to be apart of the mission, it was a “team effort” to get the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the station.

12:37 p.m. - Smooth ride and handling

Astronaut Doug Hurley said he was pleased with the handling of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, noting he had two opportunities to manually fly the craft. Astronaut Bob Behnken said he was surprised at the smoother ride during liftoff than what he had experienced aboard the space shuttle.

12:23 p.m. - Welcome aboard

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have boarded the International Space Station after a 19-hour trip from launchpad 39-A in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

12:02 p.m. - Dragon hatch opened

There is now a clear path to the International Space Station from the SpaceX Dragon capsule after the spacecraft’s hatch was opened. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are about to board the ISS.

11:42 a.m. - Vestibule hatch opened

The hatch to the vestibule between the International Space Station and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has been opened. Final checks are underway before the hatch to the Dragon spacecraft can be opened.

11:11 a.m. - Hungry men

It sounds like the astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule enjoyed a few meals during their journey to the International Space Station. According to an inventory of consumption reported to SpaceX, Hurley and Behnken enjoyed nine bottles of water and six meals during the 19-hour journey to the ISS.

10:35 a.m. - Dragon makes 5

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule makes for a total of five spacecraft that are currently docked at the International Space Station.

There are three people aboard the ISS right now -- astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The astronauts aboard the Dragon will bring the total number of people aboard the station to five.

10:04 a.m. - Space Station hatch opened

The hatch of the International Space Station has been opened as the pressurization of the vestibule continues. It will be a while, though, before the hatch of the Dragon capsule can be opened and the astronauts can board the station.

9:41 a.m. - Pressurization underway

The vestibule between Dragon and ISS is being pressurized before the astronauts can open the hatch of the capsule and enter the station. The process should take about an hour to complete.

9:30 a.m. - Docking complete

The soft capture ring has been retracted and hard capture latches have been activated as the docking procedure is completed. Now, the vestibule between Dragon and ISS will be pressurized before the astronauts can enter the station.

9:17 a.m. - Capture

Dragon has completed a soft capture of the International Space Station. The docking ring will be retracted, latches activated and the hard capture will be complete. That will complete the docking process.

9:12 a.m. - Go for docking

After a brief hold just off the ISS, the go has been given for docking of the Dragon capsule to the station. Sunset is approaching.

9:10 a.m. - Final hold before docking

Dragon is nearing the ISS and will hold for a brief moment at about 20 meters away from the station for a final check before making its final approach to the station for docking.

8:57 a.m. - Maneuvers complete

The maneuvers being performed by the astronauts during the manual flight tests have been completed. The approach to ISS continues.

8:37 a.m. - Ahead of schedule

SpaceX announcers said the approach procedure is running a little ahead of schedule. A manual piloting test is underway as the Dragon capsule continues its journey to the ISS.

8:20 a.m. - Schedule for today

Approaching, docking and boarding the Space Station is a lengthy process. Here’s a look at the schedule for today’s arrival of the Dragon capsule, according to NASA.

  • 9:29 a.m. – Docking
  • 11:45 a.m. – Hatch Open
  • 12:15 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
  • 2:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson

You can watch all these events live in the video player above. We’ll post updates on this page as the process progresses.

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