On Monday night, four astronauts boarded a new spacecraft designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to dock with the International Space Station. This was the first manned mission of a privately constructed space capsule purchased by NASA.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule was called “resilience” by three Americans and a Japanese astronaut, and it docked in Cana, Florida at 11:01 PM EST (9:31 AM EST Tuesday) 27 hours after launch on the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Villars.

For the next six months, the space station was an orbiting laboratory about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the earth. After that, another group of astronauts in the “Crew Dragon” capsule will replace them. This rotation will continue until Boeing joins the program with its own spacecraft in the second half of next year.

The resilience crew includes Crew Dragon commander Mike Hopkins (Mike Hopkins) and two NASA astronauts: mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker. They took part in space travel with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. This was his third space travel. He had previously taken the US space shuttle and Soyuz in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

Another American astronaut and two Russian astronauts boarded the space station from the previous mission.

“Welcome to the International Space Station. We can’t wait to send you to space,” said American astronaut Kate Rubins, who is already on the space station.

Before obtaining NASA’s flight certification last week, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon had been developed for about ten years under a public-private partnership NASA program launched in 2011 to restore the agency’s human space flight capabilities.

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After a test flight with two American astronauts last summer, the launch on Sunday night marked SpaceX’s first operational mission to NASA under the program.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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