SpaceX's sleek, new crew capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, reports the AP, acing its second milestone in just over a day. No one was aboard the Dragon capsule launched Saturday on its first test flight, only an instrumented dummy. But that quickly changed once the hatch swung open and the space station astronauts floated inside. "A new generation of space flight starts now with the arrival of @SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the @Space_Station," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted. "Congratulations to all for this historic achievement getting us closer to flying American Astronauts on American rockets." This beefed-up, redesigned Dragon is the first American-made, designed-for-crew spacecraft to pull up to the station in eight years. The next one coming up will have its own two-man crew.
The station's three astronauts had front-row seats as the white 27-foot capsule neatly docked, a little early no less. If the six-day demo goes well, SpaceX could launch two astronauts this summer. Both Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were at SpaceX Mission Control observing the action. "Just super excited to see it," Behnken said after the link-up. "Just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here." While SpaceX has sent plenty of cargo Dragons to the ISS, crew Dragon is a different beast. It docked autonomously under the astronauts' watchful eyes, instead of relying on the station's robot arm. The capsule's nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth, to expose the docking mechanism. Dragon will remain at the ISS until Friday, when it undocks and aims for a splashdown off of Florida. SpaceX aims to launch Behnken and Hurley as early as July.
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