“Make an effort to arrive.”
With these words, the four members of the SpaceX crew Dragon Endeavor began to float one after the other into the International Space Station on Saturday morning, about 24 hours after their capsule was lifted from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
According to SpaceX, the Elon Musk-led company that built the spaceship, the Endeavor docked at the space station shortly after 5 a.m.
Seven astronauts waited to greet the crew, beaming and hugging every newcomer as they slowly walked through a hatch into the station.
“Your arrival means there are now 11 people aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number that has not been seen since the space shuttle era,” NASA said on Twitter.
The crew that arrived on Saturday included two NASA astronauts, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, as well as Thomas Pesquet from France and Akihiko Hoshide from Japan, according to NASA.
The journey to the train station went relatively smoothly, although the crew was warned at some point that a piece of space debris would pass the capsule at around 1:43 p.m. East Coast time on Friday.
The astronauts were instructed to put on their spacesuits, return to their seats, and lower their protective visors. The debris was not identified immediately. NASA said the debris was approximately 28 miles from the capsule, a safe distance, and that the spacecraft was not at risk.
The crew will stay with three other astronauts: Mark Vande Hei from NASA and two Russians, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, who all arrived at the station on April 9th.
The four members of Crew-1 who arrived on Crew-Dragon Resilience in November will spend five days with Crew-2 before returning to Earth.
Crew-2 will remain in space for six months. Their trip to the space station is a continuation of NASA’s efforts to turn the business of putting humans into low-earth orbit to the private sector.
The successful mission on Saturday marked the third time SpaceX has promoted astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.
“This is an exciting time for human spaceflight and this new success in the commercial crew program embodies it,” said David Parker, director of human and robotics research for the European Space Agency.
NASA has hired two companies – SpaceX and Boeing – to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX was the first ready to put astronauts into orbit.
The first mission was last May when the company brought two NASA astronauts – Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken, who was with Dr. McArthur is married – brought to the space station on a test flight to clean up any remaining malfunctions in the systems.
Earlier this month, NASA placed a $ 2.9 billion contract with SpaceX to develop a vehicle that would allow astronauts to return to the moon. For this mission, the company plans to use a giant rocket called the Starship, which will one day take people to Mars.
Kenneth Chang contributed to the coverage.