SpaceX capsule docks at International Space Station with astronaut, cosmonaut crew
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrived at the space station after a 29-hour spaceflight. Seven other astronauts were already on the ISS awaiting the new arrivals.
After launching from Florida more than 24 hours ago, the Crew-5 astronaut-cosmonaut mission docked at the International Space Station Thursday evening.
As part of SpaceX's fifth commercial crew mission for NASA, Elon Musk's company launched two NASA astronauts, a Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut in the Crew Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket at noon Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center.
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrived at the space station just before 5:01 p.m. ET after a 29-hour spaceflight. Prior to docking, the Dragon flew through space at 17,000 mph to catch up with the International Space Station about 200 miles above Earth.
The Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft can autonomously park at the ISS docking port. However, as the pilot, Cassada could take over if needed, but that was not necessary.
Using a series of controlled thruster burns, Dragon slowly approached the space station.
"It's so great to finally have arrived at the International Space Station," Mann said after the Dragon was officially docked at the ISS.
This marks the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada and Kikina. Wakata has spent nearly 11 months in space throughout his career with flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and NASA's space shuttle.
"Thanks for giving us a smooth ride. It was just like the simulation," Wakata said of the SpaceX Dragon after docking.
Mann, a member of the Wailacki Tribe, is the first Native American woman to visit the International Space Station. She was the first to come through the Dragon hatch and be welcomed by the other residents.
Mann brought a dream catcher made by her mother to the low-Earth orbit. She is also the first female commander of a SpaceX Dragon mission.
Kikina is the first cosmonaut to fly with SpaceX and the sixth Russian woman to fly in space overall. She came out of the hatch last with a huge smile and shared hugs with her fellow crew.
The astronauts were all greeted by seven astronaut and cosmonaut residents already living and working on the space station, including Crew-4 astronauts who are set to return to Earth next week, also via a SpaceX Dragon.
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The Dragon hatch to the space station opened at 6:49 p.m. and later, all the ISS crew participated in a welcome ceremony.
While in space for six months, the Crew-5 astronauts will conduct more than 200 experiments in the orbiting laboratory.
After SpaceX docks the Crew Dragon at the ISS, the company has an unrelated rocket launch from Cape Canaveral a few hours later.
SpaceX is targeting 7:20 p.m. to launch the Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket. This will mark the company's third launch this week, a batch of Starlink satellites launched from California on Wednesday, just hours after SpaceX sent up the four astronauts from Florida.
Excellent weather is forecast for Thursday's launch with more than a 90% chance of favorable liftoff conditions. The primary concern will be cumulus clouds.