Astronauts Dock With Space Station After Historic SpaceX Launch


The Crew Dragon has arrived.

On Saturday, SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule carrying two NASA astronauts on top. SpaceX is now the first private business to accomplish a feat — taking people to orbit — that had until now only been done by nations.

Less than a day later, the spacecraft docked at the International Space Station, successfully completing the first leg of its journey.

This Crew Dragon test flight is a shakedown cruise to certify that the spacecraft meets NASA’s needs and safety standards in order to start routine trips taking astronauts to and from the space station. The agency has relied on Russia for that task since the space shuttles were retired in 2011. Once astronauts begin using the capsule with regularity, space tourists could also begin to fly it in the years to come.

At 1:22 p.m. Eastern time, the two astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, disembarked the Crew Dragon, exchanging handshakes and hugs with the three astronauts already on the space station.

“Welcome to the International Space Station,” Christopher Cassidy, the NASA astronaut who is current commander of the space station, said to Mr. Behnken and Mr. Hurley. “Please come aboard.”

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