SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station, bringing the company’s first crew to the orbiting outpost. Their arrival marks another major milestone for SpaceX’s first crewed mission of the Crew Dragon, which successfully took off on Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Now, the Crew Dragon’s passengers — NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — are set to begin an extended stay on board the ISS that could last up to four months. They will join three crew mates already living on board the station–NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
The Crew Dragon’s docking showcased one of the biggest features of SpaceX’s capsule: its automated docking system. The vehicle is designed to autonomously approach the ISS and latch on to a standardized docking port, without any input from its human passengers. SpaceX successfully showcased this ability last year when the company sent a test version of the Crew Dragon to the space station without a crew on board. But this time, the company needed to prove that the Crew Dragon could deliver when it had its most precious cargo on board.
Their docking comes after the astronauts spent about 19 hours inside Crew Dragon orbiting around Earth, following Saturday’s launch. After reaching orbit, Behnken and Hurley announced that they had named their capsule Endeavour.
“We chose Endeavour for a few reasons: one because of this incredible endeavor NASA, SpaceX, and the United States has been on since the end of the Shuttle program back in 2011,” Hurley said during an event right after launching to space.